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Tulsa shooting suspects charged with murder -- and hate crimes

April 13, 2012|By Molly Hennessy-Fiske
  • Jake England, 19, left, and Alvin Watts, 33, were charged with first-degree murder, shooting with intent to kill and malicious harassment -- the equivalent of a hate crime under Oklahoma law -- in the Tulsa shootings.
Jake England, 19, left, and Alvin Watts, 33, were charged with first-degree… (Tulsa Police Department )

Tulsa prosecutors filed murder and hate crime charges Friday against two men arrested on Easter Sunday in the shooting deaths of three black residents.

The pair also were charged with shooting with intent to kill Deon Tucker, 44, and David Hall, 46. Tucker and Hall are also black, and the suspects face hate crime charges in those shootings as well.

Jake England, 19, and Alvin Watts, 33, were both described in the charging document as white, though England has been described as at least part Native American.

Black leaders, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, had pressed authorities to bring hate crime charges against England and Alvin in what have been dubbed the "Good Friday Shootings.”

“Filing charges is the first step to obtain justice for the victims and their families,” said Doug Drummond, Tulsa County's first assistant district attorney, in a statement supplied to The Times. “This is a tragic and senseless crime. Our office is committed to holding those responsible accountable for their actions.”

England and Watts have confessed to the shootings, according to Tulsa police accounts and reports supplied to The Times. England had cursed blacks on his Facebook page before the shootings, noting that his father was shot and killed by a black man in north Tulsa. The recent shootings occurred on the two-year anniversary of the father's death.

The suspects were being held on more than $9 million bond and had yet to enter pleas Friday.

Drummond said prosecutors will decide later whether to seek the death penalty. The state hate crime charge -- known as a charge of malicious harassment -- is a misdemeanor that carries only a potential one-year sentence and $1,000 fine. But it has considerable symbolic value, residents on the Tulsa's north side told The Times this week.

Those killed were Dannaer Fields, 49, Bobby Clark, 54 and William Allen, 31. Clark’s funeral was held Friday at a north side church and drew a crowd of mourners including Jackson, Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett and the U.S. attorney for the Northern Region of Oklahoma, Thomas Scott Woodward.

Woodward said his office does not yet have plans to file federal hate crime charges, but that he will be watching to see how local prosecutors develop their case.

“We are keeping our options open and waiting the outcome of the state prosecution,” Woodward told The Times. “They are well along and we are supporting that effort.”

England and Watts are due back in court Monday for a hearing.

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molly.hennessy-fiske@latimes.com  

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