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.
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Group argues for greater local control of schools
District 25 State Rep. Todd Thomsen told local residents who filled the Perfect Blend Coffee House Monday evening they weren’t there to fight and be unpleasant.
The town hall-type meeting would take place with everyone playing nicely.
That’s exactly what happened — at least in Ada.
Most audience members expressed the opinion that State School Superintendent Janet Barresi is out of control. Monday’s meeting was an effort to create a power base among local parents, teachers and administrators without regard to political ideology.
Thomsen said he felt most in the audience want to return to a conservative education system, one with local control that holds teachers and administrators accountable to local school boards — not state and federal authorities.
Ada Lions establish permanent eye care clinic in Guatemala
The Ada Lions Club has gone international. In November, the club began its own permanent Eye Clinic in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala, a city with a population of 40,000, primarily Mayan Indians.
Students construct 'green tree' as service learning project
East Central University students, as part of a service learning project for an advertising/public relations campaign class, formulated the idea for a “Green Tree” on display at Wintersmith Park during the holidays.
Dec. 17, 2013
County looking at boosting courthouse security systems
Beefed up security at the Pontotoc County Courthouse is getting closer.
Organizations benefit from Farnham Trust donations
A young woman attending East Central University in the early 1950s, met a young man at the school and married him. Together, they started a familly.
Many people have benefitted ever since.
The generosity of Jerry and Mamie Farnham to Ada and the surrounding area was plainly visible Thursday when six different organizations shared a $627,600 gift courtesy of the Farnum Family Trust.
Company brings 4G LTE to area
Ada has been upgraded to the 4G LTE network.
If that doesn’t mean a lot to you now, it will.
4G has been with us for awhile, but AT&T has added LTE — Long Term Evolution.
AT&T has completed its fourth communication upgrade in the last six years. Its operation in Ada has been upgraded along with it.
Area Greatest Loser contest to begin soon
Soon the holidays will be oh, so 2013. Gone. Forgotten. A thing of the past. Not so, the extra pounds we packed on enjoying those glorious days of Yuletide caloric consumption.
With a new year around the corner, it’s time to start planning how to get them off again. The Ada News and participating sponsors want to help by kicking off our sixth annual Greatest Loser Contest.
Accident victim critical
An Ada man who was injured by flying debris at a local industrial plant in Ada Thursday morning was in critical condition Saturday, according to a spokesperson at OU Medical Center.
According to Citizens Bank Ada Facebook page, people wishing to help the family of Martin Jussely can donate to the Martin Jussely Benefit account at any Citizens Bank location.
Dec. 13, 2013
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- Group argues for greater local control of schools