This election cycle began a few months prior to filing for office.

I began receiving phone calls from local attorneys saying they had been contacted by a liberal organization — an organization that supports open borders, that does not support our Second Amendment rights but does support removing crosses from chapel buildings on college campuses and other things not supported by the people of this district — and asked to run against me, but they refused to do so. DA’s had already been advised that such organizations were seeking opponents for experienced DA’s, to try to remove resistance to their agendas. Soon thereafter, Mr. Edwards announced he would run for DA.

Throughout this election, Josh Edwards has used misleading ads and falsehoods in an effort to gain political points.

It began with false statistics and fine print. He has attacked prior DA’s, neither of whom are his opponent. It is clear Edwards will do anything and say anything, regardless of its truth or relevance, in order to win this election.

If he is willing to do that to get the job, you have to wonder what he will be willing to do to keep it.

He has recently claimed that a sentence was somehow purchased by a defendant. The truth is a judge held a hearing where he listened to evidence of the things that young man had done to rehabilitate himself and make up for the wrongs he had committed in the community. The judge imposed that sentence according to law. Now, 10 years later, this young man has turned his life around and is on the straight and narrow, only to have Edwards throw his name into the public eye and disrupt his life. All in an effort to gain votes.

This is the same Josh Edwards who at the last debate said he wasn’t going to put anyone in prison who committed a non-violent crime to feed their drug habit. Which is it, Josh? You criticize DA’s for putting people in prison for drugs, and then criticize me when I didn’t put this young man in prison for drugs!

Speaking of justice for sale, Edwards has accepted $5,400 in out-of-state campaign contributions from a member of the board of directors of the New York-based Innocence Project, and his wife, who previously wrote a book portraying Ada, Oklahoma, in the poorest light possible. That organization now has an active case in our district. They have not donated to any other election in Oklahoma.

Justice for sale indeed.

In fact, Edwards’ largest contributors are this couple, a man in Edmond, and the Democrat party.

I have pledged to continue to seek justice for the victims of crime, just as I have for 32 years. Josh Edwards has made his pledges to criminals.

This group he won’t put in prison, he says. Another group he won’t even file charges on because he doesn’t want the defendant to have to pay court costs. So, as the victim of the crime is struggling to pay the insurance deductible on his house that’s been burglarized or on his car that’s been stolen and damaged, or the victim is trying to cope with the emotional loss of a family heirloom stolen and never to be returned, Mr. Edwards will be worried about the thief not having to pay court costs?

I dealt with victims daily for 32 years. I assure you, they want and deserve justice, not Mr. Edwards’ promises to criminals.

Mr. Edwards has repeatedly spoken of the “Innocent Man era.” His supporters have raised other cases. Let’s shine some honesty on this issue.

Debbie Carter was murdered 36 years ago this December. Mr. Fritz and Mr. Williamson were convicted 30 years ago. Everyone involved in the investigation and prosecution of that case has been retired or deceased for over 10 years.

Calvin Lee Scott was prosecuted in the early ‘80s. The prosecutor in that case has long since retired.

These cases have two things in common. The first is that the prosecutors relied on hair analysis evidence, which at the time was being taught as the next fingerprint. It turned out to be bad science. The second thing they have in common is that I had absolutely no involvement in either of those prosecutions.

An Edwards supporter from South Carolina wrote to complain about the Ward-Fontenot case. This murder occurred in 1984. This case has been reviewed in many courts and has never been overturned. The man is obviously personal friends with one of the defendants, since he corresponds with him. Should out-of-state interests choose your DA? This case has another thing in common with all the other cases mentioned above. It’s a case from over 30 years ago that I was never involved in, and the prosecutors and investigators in that case are also all deceased or retired.

As for the Lott case, the Edwards camp of defense attorneys fails to tell the truth.

This yet another case from the 1980s and a trial that neither I nor my staff was involved in.

The truth is that the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation DNA experts have repeatedly told me that the DNA testing does not prove him innocent and that no ethical DNA expert would claim it did. The defense was asked to provide a letter from their expert and declined to do so. What I was concerned about was locating a rape victim from 1988 and asking her to relive that horrible event. They say the proof is in the pudding. On the very day the defense could have shown their DNA evidence to the judge, they chose not to do so. They made the first offer to settle the case with Lott keeping the conviction, not me.

That should speak volumes about the strength of that test.

Perhaps the aura of this “‘wrongful conviction era” will end when Edwards and his supporters, local and out of state, quit shamefully raising decades old trials in an attempt to score political points when they know full well that neither I nor my staff had any involvement in those trials.

Paul B. Smith,

District Attorney for the people of Pontotoc, Seminole and Hughes counties

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