TULSA, Okla. — In late 2020, Curtis Wickham Jr. was mauled to death by three pit bulls owned Benjamin Ryan Spence. Now, Wickham’s family is outraged after Spence is given a plea deal to lower his charge of murder to second degree manslaughter.
In October, 2020, witnesses said Curtis Wickham Jr. went to Spence’s home to get his phone. At the time, Spence was dating Champaign Walker, and Wickham was Walker’s ex-boyfriend.
Walker said to officers on scene that Wickham and Spence got into an argument before the three dogs attacked him. On the scene, Walker said she recalled Spence pointing the dogs to Wickham before the attack and that Spence did not render aid or attempted to call the dogs off Wickham.
She also said she saw Spence throw a TV at Wickham as hew was on the ground after the dog attack.
A second witness told officers on scene that they recalled Spence saying “sick ‘em” to his dogs before the attack.
An affidavit also said that Spence sent Wickham a threatening text saying he would “stab him in the face,” previous to the killing.
Police found Wickham on scene barely responsive with multiple lacerations. He was transported to the hospital and later pronounced dead.
For the incident, Benjamin Ryan Spence was arrested on second degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon in Dec. of 2020.
But since then, both witnesses have retracted their accounts of the incident
Now, two and and years later, April 2022, Spence was convicted of 2nd degree man slaughter and sentenced to 4 years in prison - minus time served.
This was reached a plea deal.
Assistant District Attorney Erik Grayless said this was because, he doesn’t believe they had a strong enough case to get a jury to convict Spence of murder.
“We thought that there was a possibility that the jury could give less than murder - we wanted to secure a homicide conviction,’ said Grayless.
Grayless was worried of the jury finding Spence completely not guilty and wanted to do his best to ensure Wickham’s family receives justice, rather than risk Spence seeing no time at all.
Wickham’s family however, is outraged.
“We felt like no justice what so ever was served in court,” said Wayne Sanders, Curtis Jr.’s uncle.
Grayless said the plea deal was discussed with Wickham’s family and was agreed upon.
But the family said that’s not true. They said they spoke with Grayless, but told him they full heartedly wanted a trial by jury.
Wickham’s family also said they weren’t notified or in attendance for the Allan hearing, which is a hearing where both parties are usually present to exchange discovery of the crime.
The family believes a jury would have convicted Spence and feels the justice system has failed them.
“We’re really upset with the DA - we’re really upset with the judge,” Sanders said. “CJ [Curtis Jr.] got not justice out of this what so ever - and we’re appalled by all this.”
Sander’s continued, “This guy stood for 13 to 15 minutes and watched his dogs eat CJ alive - while he [Curtis Jr.] screamed and yelled.”
“Nobody deserves to be taken out that way,” Sanders said. “The guy’s gonna be out in a few years - do you really think he’s learned his lesson? He’s a murderer. He murdered CJ.”
Now, a hearing is supposed to be held this week to see if the dogs in the case are considered vicious.
And the family wants the dogs put down.
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