One suspect in love triangle murder pleads guilty, second prepares for trial

TULSA, Okla. — Two murder suspects in a love triangle gone wrong were in court Thursday, learning if the case could go to trial.

Police say Nicholas Johnson and Brinlee Denison killed Sarah Maguire in Tulsa’s first homicide of 2022. Johnson waived rights to a jury trial and pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. Denison’s case is moving forward.

Maguire was found dead in her home near West 41st Street and South 28th West Avenue. Court documents say Johnson and Denison admitted to beating Maguire with a crowbar, stealing her cash and credit cards, and then driving out of state.

“The allegations are egregious, to say the least, as far as what we’ve received,” said District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler.

Court documents allege Johnson and Denison had sex in Maguire’s bed, after beating her. Johnson admitted his guilt in a Tulsa County courtroom. However, Denison intends on having her side go before a jury. Meaning, it could be another death penalty case.

“This is the type of case we’d look at, I’d assemble my death penalty review team to review it and make a determination. Not every case we file do we seek the death penalty, but I want to make sure we’re going by the numbers,” said Kunzweiler.

The judge issued a 30-day continuance to learn if the state needs to back track and start with a preliminary hearing where evidence against Denison is played out in court.

“It’s our job to prove whether or not she is responsible for the death in this case,” said Kunzweiler.

Family members of Sarah Maguire were emotional in the courtroom, seeing their loved one’s alleged killers. While they wait for the next step, they’re grateful at least one has already accepted responsibility.

“They see some what I’d say a light at the end of the tunnel, that there will be some resolution in part on this case,” said Kunzweiler.

Johnson will be back in court for his sentencing on July 21st. Nicholas faces life with or without parole. Brinlee Denison will be back in court on June 13th.