, Muskogee, OK

July 11, 2013

Attorney says other suspects in four Tulsa slayings

Associated Press

— TULSA (AP) — The defense attorney for one of two brothers accused of shooting four Tulsa women to death in January said Thursday that he has witnesses who point to other suspects in the case.

Attorney John Echols told The Associated Press that his client, Cedric Poore, had nothing to do with the killings of 23-year-old twins Rebeika Powell and Kayetie Melchor, 33-year-old Misty Nunley and 55-year-old Julie Jackson. The four were found tied up and shot in the head.

Poore and his brother, James Poore, have pleaded not guilty in the deaths. Their preliminary hearing is scheduled for Monday in Tulsa district court.

Authorities believe the brothers robbed the women at a rundown apartment complex, then killed them because they feared they would be identified.

An early portion of Monday’s hearing will likely involve several legal challenges made by attorneys for the Poore brothers involving witnesses who will be called and other protocol.

On Tuesday, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals denied a bid by defense attorneys seeking the recusal of the special judge overseeing the early stages of the case. The attorneys had argued that the judge, Stephen Clark, ordered a witness to meet with district attorneys or face the risk of prosecution, making the witness believe she must “play ball” with the prosecutors. The court rejected that claim.

On Thursday, Echols said his client was arrested in the rush to find the culprits in the Jan. 7 killings, which happened in the middle of the day. He also questioned the reliability the witnesses prosecutors planned to call, saying some were “pretty well under the state’s thumb” and have had their own run-ins with the law.

“We want to call witnesses who identify other suspects in the case,” Echols said in an interview. “Our defense is that Cedric Poore was not present when these women were killed and he wasn’t a part of it at all.

“The investigation became flawed when (investigators) took a detour to involve Cedric,” he said.

James Poore’s defense attorney, Kathy Fry, didn’t return a phone message seeking comment Thursday.

First Assistant District Attorney Doug Drummond dismissed Echols’ criticisms, saying they were typically used by defense attorneys.

“The goal is to develop a theme or strategy that blames someone other than their client for whatever offense they are charged with,” he said in a statement. “Among the most used themes are ‘rush to judgment’ and questioning the motives of the witnesses.”