Two Adair County men were sentenced Tuesday to deferred sentences in deaths that occurred in 2003 and 2004.

James Leonard Allen Thomas, 22, received a four-year deferred sentence Tuesday in the October 2003 shooting death of 19-year-old James Hawley.

In a similar case, Erin Shawn Hammer, 25, of Stilwell received a five-year deferred sentence, fines and an order to pay restitution.

James Hawley’s mother was heartsick that Thomas, her son’s killer, wasn’t ordered to serve prison time.

Hawley was shot in his Adair County home near Stilwell. Thomas and Eric Daniel Higgins, Thomas’ co-defendant, were both 18 and high school seniors at the time.

Thomas will be subjected to a restitution hearing in the case and be under supervision while serving his deferred sentence, officials said.

And if he gets in trouble during those four years — he’s going to prison, said District Judge Jeff Payton.

“I don’t feel like it’s justice,” Hawley’s mother, Kathy Hawley, said after the Tuesday sentencing. “I’ve fought this for the last five years. Citizens of Adair County should decide their guilt or innocence.”

She said she told the court she wants to see Thomas serve some community service.

“This is death — not a traffic charge or drug charge,” she said. “They’re treating it with the nonchalance of traffic court.”

Higgins has defense attorney Donn Baker negotiating a plea agreement with Adair County prosecutors in the Hawley death case. If a decision isn’t reached soon, Higgins will appear on a sounding docket Sept. 9. At that time, a jury trial date will be set, Payton said.

Defense attorneys for Thomas and Higgins earlier had argued both defendants should be given a plea agreement former District Attorney Richard Gray had offered in the case three days before he left office on Dec. 31, 2006.

When District Attorney Jerry Moore took over as chief prosecutor in Adair, Cherokee, Wagoner and Sequoyah counties, he said Gray’s sentencing recommendations were more in the nature of gifts rather than the result of any plea negotiations.

Moore earlier said a deferred sentence to second-degree murder is “outrageous, shocking and wholly without the underpinnings of justice.”

Gray testified he had promised deferred sentences to the defendants. He said he knew the families of the victims weren’t happy with that, but it was the best thing to do because the evidence would make the cases difficult to take to trial.

In a similar case involving a death, Gray had promised a deferred sentence to Hammer, who was charged with first-degree manslaughter in March 2004.

He was accused of shooting his cousin, Jason Hammer, 24.

Just before leaving office, Gray also promised Eric Hammer a deferred sentence.

In addition to Hammer’s deferred sentence, Payton ordered him to pay a $5,000 fine, suspending all but $500 of the fine. He ordered Hammer to make $10,000 restitution over the next five years. He ordered him to pay at least $2,000 a year.



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