Protecting witnesses in high-profile cases

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Updated: 2/08/2013 11:35 pm Published: 2/08/2013 11:29 pm

Arrest reports show witnesses are playing a key role in the quadruple murder investigation.

On Wednesday police announced two brothers were arrested related to the four murders that happened at Fairmont Terrace last month near 61st & Peoria.

The brothers, Cedric Poore, 39, and James Poore, 32 face four counts of first-degree murder.

Twin sisters Rebeika Powell and Kayetie Melchor and friend Misty Nunley and neighbor Julie Jackson were tied up and shot execution style.

Arrest reports state James Poore told witnesses he shot one of the twins and his brother shot the other three women.

This is not the first time in jail for the brothers. Investigators say way too often, one crime will lead to another and another because witnesses fear speaking up.

“It's frustrating,” said Alicia Lippert.

Lippert knows the consequences better than most when witnesses won’t cooperate, Cedric Poore was once charged in the death of her brother.

In 2005, a prison riot in Cushing ended with the death of a self-proclaimed white-supremacist, Adam Lippert. Reports state he was beaten, punched and stabbed by inmates.

“It's mind baffling, how do you walk away from doing something like and walk away scott free?" said Lippert.

She understands her brother wasn’t a saint and but it wasn’t until he got into prison did he affiliate himself with white pride. She looks back on his death with a lot of pain.

"Guilt, I wish there was something I could have done to help him,” said Lippert.

One of the inmates, Cedric Poore, was originally charged in that riot and was let out of prison early. He is now accused of murdering four women in south Tulsa.

“How many murders do you get to commit before you are held accountable for them?" said Lippert.

Court records show the riot charges were dropped for lack of witnesses willing to talk.

In the case of the quad murders, Tulsa County District Attorney, Tim Harris says he won’t allow that to happen again.

"I want witnesses to feel if I come forward I am not going to walk this journey alone. I am not going to let witnesses let this walk this journey alone,” said Harris.

He says he is pulling on all resources available to him, from the Attorney General to churches. He wants to create a stronger witness protection program to give more witnesses confidence they can share what they know.

"I have to have witnesses to prosecute. It is as simple as that," said Harris. "It's fine and dandy that the witness talks to police but it doesn't do anything for the prosecution if I can't assure that piece of evidence goes before the court." 

Harris is working with District Attorney in Denver who is considered to have one of the most respected local witness protection programs in the U.S.

"A witness protection program can be as much as relocating a person from one apartment to another in a different part of town. It could be as intricate as the federal prosecutors have is giving someone a new social security number and new identity,” said Harris.

Currently, the DA has to reach out to the federal government to protect witnesses. However, Harris says his office doesn’t have the money to protect all witnesses.

After the quadruple murders, a Public Safety Intelligence Working Group was created to explore ways to market Crime Stoppers, update a police records system and create a witness protection program. The group was made up city leaders, law enforcement, Crime Prevention Network and media.

Councilors support the recommendations and will look for ways to support it.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

Unwashed Mass - 2/10/2013 3:36 PM
1 Vote
Harris does whatever the FOP union tells him to, just like every other weak D.A.

Tommy - 2/9/2013 12:25 PM
2 Votes
What a good idea Mr. Harris... that if you and your posse will finance that program out of your fat wallets.

aleman - 2/9/2013 11:54 AM
2 Votes
He is from that same Neanderthal gene pool the rest of our city leaders come from...they haven't got past the 1960's when Tulsa was the oil capital and voted Americas' most beautiful we are nothing but a dried up old southern boomtown gone bust...overrun with gangbangers and a Mecca for every criminal and meth zombie in the country...but no...we keep voting in these liberal faux republicans from this same gene pool,only thing they care about is hedging their investments in an old dirty downtown that will never return to its' heyday of the 1940's,or the ignorant riverbed walk,the hideous scenery and the awful smell when the wind blows from the south and the total lack of history like the one in San Antonio has will never take off other than for the usual winos and perverts that hang out in places these idiots build

kindagreywolf - 2/9/2013 10:41 AM
3 Votes
Wasn't there a "Witness Protection list" Going around North Tulsa for $3.00 a sheet last year? YES! Was that investigated and charges pressed? NO! The Law and Police have to be cleaned up first. Sorry guys, I know it's my "Civic Duty" to help the police but I am not going to put my head on the chopping block. Even if they make a "Better witness protection program" that ax is still going to be swinging at innocent people.

Nickki - 2/9/2013 10:22 AM
2 Votes
A 'percentage' of why a LOT of your crimes aren't being reported, is do to the so-called protection program that has made innocent people feel safe...NOT. The people who are stepping up to help law enforcement/courts are merely setting themselves up to be 'open-game' to these criminal's. HELL YEAH..give the innocent people who are RISKING their own lives some REAL PROTECTION against these low-lives.

Mayor Maynot - 2/9/2013 2:40 AM
1 Vote
He talks about a lot of things. This tired old horse will will keep on talking eating his oats and swishing his tail at flies till he retires. But he's not going to make any landmark changes. Ride it till the wheels fall off.
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