, Muskogee, OK

October 17, 2012

With evidence gone, state drops charge in 1983 killing

Associated Press

— POTEAU (AP) — The state of Oklahoma has dropped a first-degree murder charge filed against a man who evaded law enforcement officials for 27 years before he was captured last year along the Canadian border.

A lawyer for Suhail Shanti had claimed that evidence in the case was missing and the state acknowledged Wednesday it no longer had sufficient evidence to pursue the case. A Leflore County judge agreed.

After his fingerprints matched those from the case file, Shanti was detained north of Seattle last year while applying for a "trusted traveler" program benefiting frequent border crossers. He had been missing since 1984.

Prosecutor Jeff Smith said Wednesday that some witnesses had died and others had fading memories. Blood evidence also had degraded.

A lawyer for Shanti did not immediately return a call seeking comment.