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Tulsa shootings: Details emerge about killing of suspect's father

April 09, 2012|By Molly Hennessy-Fiske
  • Pernell Demond Jefferson was not charged with murder in the killing of Carl England in 2010 because prosecutors ruled it justifiable homicide. Now investigators say the case may be linked to a series of Tulsa, Okla., shootings that terrorized the black community.
Pernell Demond Jefferson was not charged with murder in the killing of Carl… (Oklahoma Department of…)

HOUSTON -- A spate of shootings in Tulsa, Okla., appears connected to the two-year anniversary of the slaying of a suspect's father, police said. And on Monday, prosecutors released new information about the handling of that case.

Jacob "Jake" England, 19, and Alvin Watts, 32, have been jailed in connection with the recent shootings and are being held on about $9-million bail each. The men face charges of murder, shooting with intent to kill and possession of a firearm in commission of a felony.

Three people were killed in the shootings and two injured; all of the victims were black.

England's recent Facebook posts indicated that he was upset about the death of his father, Carl England, 47, at the hands of Pernell Demond Jefferson, who is black. England has identified himself as Native American and white, police said.

The shootings began after the two-year anniversary of Carl England's death. Tulsa police were still examining social media Monday to determine the details of the potential connection between the cases.

On Monday, the Tulsa County district attorney's office released a statement to The Times and others clarifying how it handled Jefferson's prosecution.

At the time, prosecutors ruled England's death justifiable homicide. They charged Jefferson, now 40, with attempted first-degree burglary and possession of a firearm after a former conviction of a felony.

He is scheduled to stand trial on those charges May 7.

"Based on the reports presented by the Tulsa Police Department, the DA’s Office found Jefferson’s actions to be justified under Oklahoma law," spokeswoman Susan Witt said in the statement, citing a self-defense, or "stand your ground," law. 

That law maintains: “A person is justified in using deadly force in self-defense if that person reasonably believed that use of deadly force was necessary to protect himself/herself from imminent danger of death or great bodily harm.”

A similar state law has been invoked to defend the actions of George Zimmerman, who shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26 as Martin walked in a gated community in Sanford, Fla.  

Jefferson apparently shot Carl England -- as Jake England watched -- during an argument at a Tulsa apartment complex, according to the Tulsa World.

Damien Neal, the boyfriend of Carl England's daughter, told police the argument began after Neal caught Jefferson attempting to break into his apartment. Neal said he called Carl England after Jefferson left to get a gun.

When Carl England and Neal found Jefferson, Neal said in the account, Carl England struck him with a stick. He said Jefferson responded by shooting Carl England in the chest.

At the time, Jefferson was on probation. A month later, a judge revoked his probation for pointing a firearm and domestic assault and battery in the presence of a child. Jefferson was sentenced to six years in prison, where he remains.

It was not clear Monday whether officials would pursue hate-crime charges against Jake England and Watts. Oklahoma's hate-crime law is a misdemeanor.

"This is the highest priority of any cases in the Tulsa County district attorney's office and we'll look at it, but we won't make a decision until we're sure we've vetted all the facts and evidence law enforcement has been able to uncover," Tulsa County Dist. Atty. Tim Harris said in a  statement Monday.

molly.hennessy-fiske@latimes.com

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