ADA – “The retrial of Glen Gore was the trial of the century for Pontotoc County,” said Judge Thomas Landrith.

With an array of the foremost experts in the country to testify on DNA evidence and the crime scene, as well as witness testimony, and alternate suspect evidence, the John Boyce McKeel Justice Center was the courtroom where for two weeks a 24-year-old drama unfolded before a jury of eight women and four men.  The jury found Gore guilty of first-degree murder of 21-year-old Debra Sue Carter, but was deadlocked 11-1 on delivering a death sentence.   Landrith dismissed the hung jury at 2:30 a.m. Friday morning, and pronounced a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole to Glen Gore. 

Debra Sue Carter was brutally raped and murdered in her apartment in the early morning hours of Dec. 8, 1982, but her case remained unsolved by the Ada Police Department detectives for five years before they had enough evidence to present to the district attorney’s office for an arrest.  Investigators felt the microscopic analysis of hair collected at the scene matched those of Dennis Fritz and Ron Williamson.

Largely circumstantial, other evidence included the proximity of Williamson’s and Fritz’s residences to that of Carter’s, past history Williamson had with women, testimony from fellow inmates, and statements made by Glen Gore that Ron Williamson had been at the Coachlight Club bothering Debbie Carter that night.  

Williamson was convicted of the crime and given a death sentence in 1987. Fritz, also convicted, was given a sentence of life in prison.  They served 12 years in separate Department of Corrections facilities, with Williamson languishing on death row, always pleading his innocence to the crime.  Williamson won the right to a retrial from the 10th Circuit Court of Criminal Appeals and was one day from release when Glen Gore escaped from prison knowing the DNA test results had identified him as the donor of hair and semen found in Carter’s apartment.  Fritz and Williamson were released after Judge Landrith dismissed the case against them. 

 

Gore was serving a 40-year prison term at the Lexington Correctional Facility for the kidnapping and hostage of his ex-wife and her 3-year-old daughter at gunpoint in 1984.  Gore fired at police officers twice before using the child as a shield when surrendering himself to the SWAT team surrounding the apartment.

 

 In April 1999, Gore escaped from prison while he was working as a trustee assigned to brush-hog along the highway median near Purcell. Gore reportedly phoned an Oklahoma City employee of the department of corrections to pick him up to buy supplies which he was allowed to do occassionly. Unaware of any escape plan, the employee reportedly did not know the phone call Gore made while he with her was for someone to help him escape from justice. One week later, as a SWAT team assembled at the Pontotoc County courthouse, Gore phoned a local attorney a week later to turn himself in.

 

Gore was convicted in 2003 and sentenced to death for the murder of Debra Sue Carter, but the appeals process again ruled for a retrial, based on the opinion that evidence was not presented to the jury that an alternate suspect might have killed Carter.  This month, almost 24 years after Carter’s murder, Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz were both finally exonerated as jurors decided Gore was the only guilty person having committed the crime.

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