A group of Tulsans gathered outside the Tulsa County Courthouse on Wednesday morning to protest the bond set for two men accused of killing three people and injuring two others in a shooting spree on Good Friday.
A Tulsa judge set bond for Alvin Watts and Jake England on Monday. They are accused of killing three and injuring two after a series of shootings in north Tulsa on Good Friday.
One man says the decision snatches back some of the relief the north Tulsa community felt after police arrested England and Watts, and he is determined to do something about what he perceives as an injustice. On Tuesday night, Randall Lopez was playing with his son, he told FOX23 he plans to protest on Wednesday. “(I’m protesting) just to kind of promote the petition and to just to get the word out about how the black community feels about the bond,” Lopez told FOX23. The petition he's talking about asks state leaders to hold north Tulsa shooting suspects Alvin Watts and Jake England without bond. Police say the two men confessed after their arrest early Sunday. “It still kind of brings back some of the discomfort that there was when they was still out on the loose,” Lopez said. As a lifelong north Tulsan, Lopez says there's another issue in his eyes: African Americans accused of first degree murder in several high profile cases in Tulsa held without bond. He points to Tyrone Woodfork who is accused of breaking into the home of Bob and Nancy Strait last month and beating the elderly couple. Nancy later died of severe injuries suffered in the attack. “They have one first degree murder charge count, these have multiple,” Lopez told FOX23. And Terrico Bethel the accused triggerman in the murder for hire of Tulsa businessman Neal Sweeney is being held without bond.
A list like that has Lopez and his neighbors asking why a bond, even though it's more than $9 million, was even set for England and Watts. “What would have happened if it had been reversed, if it was a black person killing a white person?” One woman told FOX23. Others are making up their minds about a case that has put Tulsa in the news around the globe. “I think they should have been held without bonds,” Willard Wiley said. ”No, the bond is set, if they can get out, let them get out,” Phyllis Jones remarked. A judge set the bond, and FOX23 repeatedly called him to discuss the factors that helped him make his decision, but our calls were not answered. A 1998 court ruling says most accused criminals should be given an opportunity to post bond based on the presumption of innocent until proven guilty. However, There are exceptions to that rule most judges in Oklahoma will consider. They include:
To sign Lopez’s petition click here: http://www.change.org/petitions/community-not-to-fond-of-a-bond
- The seriousness of the crime and likelihood of conviction.
- The accused's criminal history
- How long the accused has lived in the community
- Family ties and other relationships