MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

October 28, 2013

Bribery trial moves into second week

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The bribery trial of former state Rep. Randy Terrill is to begin its second week Monday in Oklahoma County District Court.

Terrill, a Republican from Moore, is charged with offering to set up former Democratic state Sen. Debbe Leftwich with an $80,000-a-year job at the state medical examiner’s office in exchange for Leftwich, D-Oklahoma City, agreeing not to run for re-election in 2010 so that a Republican colleague of Terrill’s could run for the seat.

Leftwich is scheduled to go on trial in December.

Terrill, 44, and Leftwich, 62, both maintain their innocence.

Each faces up to two years in prison and a $1,000 fine if convicted of their roles in the alleged scheme.

Phone calls to prosecution and defense attorneys Sunday were not returned.

Prosecution witnesses have included former Democratic Gov. Brad Henry, who testified last week that he vetoed both a bill to create the state job and a separate measure to divert $90,000 to the agency. He said he did so after hearing rumors that the job had been created for Leftwich and learning that District Attorney David Prater had launched an investigation into the alleged scheme. Henry said he was disappointed to veto the bill creating the job because it contained other changes that were needed to improve the medical examiner’s office.

“I didn’t veto the bill lightly,” Henry said. “We needed those reforms.”

On cross-examination, Henry, who described both former lawmakers as friends, said that while he heard rumors that the job was created for Leftwich, he had no way of knowing if that was true.

“I don’t know if there’s one ounce of truth to that,” Henry said.

Prosecutors allege Terrill masterminded the scheme so that Republican Rep. Mike Christian of Oklahoma City could seek Leftwich’s seat in south Oklahoma City.

“It centered around power, control, influence, manipulation,” Assistant District Attorney Jimmy Harmon told jurors during his opening statement.

Christian said he had intended to run for Leftwich’s seat whether she sought re-election or not, but decided not to run after learning of the investigation. He ran for re-election and won.

Defense attorney Chris Eulberg said the prosecution’s case involves “smoke and mirrors” and that Terrill was a hard-working legislator who sought to improve the medical examiner’s office.

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