State Attorney General Drew Edmondson said Wednesday he will investigate the circumstances that resulted in an admitted child rapist getting only one year in jail.
Edmondson said he was “outraged and disturbed at the outcome of the case” that has attracted national attention.
David Earls, 64, pleaded no contest on May 13 to raping a 5-year-old girl but had all but one year of a 20-year prison sentence suspended under a plea-bargain agreement.
The agreement was offered by Earls' lawyer and accepted by District Attorney Jim Bob Miller and Judge Thomas Bartheld even though Earls had two prior felony convictions, including an assault offense.
“My office is looking into the facts of the case and the plea bargain and examining state statues and case law to determine what, if any, remedy may be available to the state,” said Edmondson in a written statement.
Miller and Bartheld said they agreed to the plea bargain to protect the child victim from further trauma and to make sure Earls did not get off without punishment in the event she could not testify against him at a trial.
“It took two days to get her to say, ‘I swear to tell the truth,’” said Miller. “How is she going to get up now (at a trial) and answer personal questions about what this guy did to her?”
A motion filed in February by the prosecutor to allow the child victim to testify at Earls’ trial by closed circuit TV was rejected by Judge Bartheld.
But three months later, the judge held a hearing on the motion, with Earls and the child present in his courtroom. During the proceeding, the girl covered her eyes with her hands and said, “I’m not looking at David Earls. I’m not looking at David Earls.”
The judge then recessed the hearing to two days later without Earls present, and the child victim was qualified as a witness who knew the difference between telling the truth and telling a lie.
Still, District Attorney Miller decided not to take the case to trial and instead accept the defense motion for the controversial plea-bargain agreement.
Judge Bartheld acknowledged he could have rejected the plea-bargain but said he also thought the child had already been traumatized enough.
Oddly enough, the judge was also involved in a notorious 1995 child abuse case in McAlester involving a 2-year-old boy who died of a skull fracture.
That case resulted in stricter law and punishment in Oklahoma for child abuse.
The toddler who died was the grandson of the editor of the McAlester News-Capital at the time, Don Luke. Judge Bartheld had awarded custody of the boy, Ryan Luke, to the grandfather because the mother was considered unfit. The grandfather, the mother and the mother’s live-in boyfriend were later charged with the boy’s death.
Earls was arrested for raping the 5-year-old girl victim in September of 2008, and has been held in the local jail, unable to make bail, ever since then.
Authorities said he could be released in three months if his sentence in the rape case is applied retroactively to time served.
They also said he has a serious lung problem, and is on oxygen and thus may be released even earlier for medical reasons.
Earls had been living with the victim’s mother. But the abuse of the daughter was brought to police attention by the grandmother, who was told about Earls’ conduct by the girl and her 6-year-old brother.
The mother was interviewed last week by Fox Network reporter Geraldo Rivera. She said she had known Earls for a couple of years and considered him “a grandfather-like figure” that she could trust with her children.
“I was an idiot,” she said. “Plain and simple.”
The mother, who is not being named by CNHI to protect the identity of the victim, told Rivera that Earls “got less than what he deserved. He should have spent the rest of his life in prison.”
Details of this story were provided by the McAlester News-Capital.
- Local News
3/8/2014 Pontotoc County warrants, arrests
County warrants and arrests
Ada firefighter Danny Manuel wants to be the top Ninja warrior on NBC’s popular American Ninja Warrior television show.
He is anxiously awaiting word on whether he has been selected as one of the contestants for this year’s show.
He went through this same process last year but was never contacted.
Just like Charlie Brown on the mound in a rainstorm, Manuel keeps training and hoping for the best, even when nobody’s watching.
In the meantime, Manuel, who turns 40 this month, is preparing as if he’ll get the call for what promises to be another strenuous competition in 2014.
March 7, 2014
March 7, 2014
Honoring Chris Lane
One by one, they stopped playing or coaching and walked past the media to talk about Chris Lane.
Guess you could say he was on everybody’s mind Wednesday, especially the 40 or so players from Redlands Community College and East Central University.
- 3/6 Police Reports
Raw Video: House Fire in 7600 Block SH3W
Area firefighters work to extinguish a blaze in the 7600 block of State Highway 3W Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Mercy co-workers have a new look
If you’ve visited Mercy Hospital or a Mercy Clinic in Ada since January 1, you might have noticed something new. Mercy Ada co-workers rolled out M-Wear, Mercy’s apparel program, at the beginning of this year.
Ada Library to hold spring used book sale
The Ada Public Library will kick off the Spring Used Book Sale on Tuesday, March 11, with a preview sale for Ada Library Friends members from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.
Fun Country Special Olympics Art Competition and Music Festival held in Ada
The Fun Country Special Olympics Art Competition and Music Festival was held on Tuesday, Feb. 25, in the Ada Cougar Activity Center.
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- 3/8/2014 Pontotoc County warrants, arrests