Criminal Cases

United States v. Randall Erwin
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma
Case No. 6:08-cr-00033-FHS

Summary: Randall Erwin served 12 years in the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1992 through 2004. Over the years Mr. Erwin rose in his level of rank and respect amongst his peers. During the 2002-2004 legislative sessions Mr. Erwin served as Chairman on the Subcommittee on Natural Resources and Regulatory Services. In 2008 Mr. Erwin was indicted on seven counts related to allegations that as an Oklahoma Representative Mr. Erwin conspired to illegally funnel Oklahoma state money to private businesses owned by Steve Phipps in exchange for "kickbacks". A five-day trial was held from April 20-24, 2009.
Outcome: On April 24, 2009, the jury found Mr. Erwin not guilty on all counts of the indictment.


United States v. Harold E. Staples, III
United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma
Case No. 91-CR-119-001-C
Prosecutor: United States Attorney

Defendant: Harold E. Staples, III
Summary: The defendant was charged with Production of a False Document, False Statement to a licensed firearm dealer, possession of a firearm after a prior felony conviction, use of an unauthorized access device and conspiracy. The case was tried to a jury.
Outcome: Acquittal


State of Texas v. James Mack
Dallas County District Court
Plaintiff: Dallas County Prosecutor
Defendant: James Mack
Summary: Mr. Mack was accused of First Degree Murder. At trial, the defense was able to show that an eyewitness to the shooting had falsely identified him as the shooter in the victim's murder.
Outcome: Acquittal


United States of America v. Harold E. Staples, III
United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma
Case No. 90-CR-75-C
United States Supreme Court Case No. 92-1441
Prosecutor: United States Attorney
Defendant: Harold E. Staples, III
Experts: William Fleming - Firearms Dealer
Charles Fagg - Firearms Expert
Summary: Mr. Staples' home was searched by the ATF and the Jenks Police Department. Two firearms were seized. An M-1 Carbine used in World War II by Mr. Staples' father, which was being kept in Mr. Staples' home. The officers also seized an AR-15 rifle. Seven months later, Mr. Staples was indicted for knowingly possessing unregistered machine guns. The AR-15 was defective even in semi-automatic mode. The AR-15 was capable of firing "automatically" by malfunction. The law governing the case provided that possession of a machine gun was unlawful regardless of whether one knew it was a machine gun. At trial, the jury convicted Mr. Staples. He was sentenced to probation for five (5) years and fined. The Defendant appealed to the Tenth Circuit. The Court of Appeals upheld the conviction finding that the defendant's knowledge as to the characteristics of the weapon was not an element of the crime which the government must prove.
Outcome: This firm appealed the conviction to the United States Supreme Court with the central issue in the appeal concerning there being a lack of mens rea, or knowledge requirement, in the statute under which Mr. Staples was convicted. The Supreme Court agreed and reversed the conviction. The trial court then entered a judgment of acquittal.


State of Oklahoma v. Barbara Lynn Bell
Tulsa County District Court
Case No. DF-93-0479
Prosecutors: Jay Holtzhauser, Deputy District Attorney
S.M. Fallis, Jr., Special Appointed Prosecutor
Defendant: Barbara Lynn Bell
Experts: Dr. George Brenner, Pharmacology
Dr. Reese Price, Shock and Trauma
Ron Singer, Criminology
Richard Stengle, Firearm Forensics
Arthur Linville, Criminology
Summary: On January 22, 1993, Dr. David Bell was shot once in the forehead at his home. The next day, his wife, Barbara Bell was jailed and charged with first-degree murder. Prior to this firm's involvement, Barbara Bell was tried and convicted for second-degree murder by a jury and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Thereafter, Mrs. Bell served two years in prison before the State Court of Criminal Appeals, in 1995, overturned the conviction and ordered a new trial based on a "presumed guilty" instruction routinely offered by the trial judge. Her case was one of many convictions that were overturned on this basis. The State sought re-trial of the matter and this firm was retained to defend her at the second trial.
Outcome: On the Saturday before the retrial was to begin, the State offered a plea. Mrs. Bell accepted and entered an Alford plea. Mrs. Bell plead to first degree manslaughter and was sentenced by the Judge to an 18 year prison term, giving Mrs. Bell credit for 4 1/2 years of time already served. The Judge ordered the remainder of the sentence (13 1/2 years) to be served as unsupervised probation.


United States of America v. C. Douglas Wood, M.D.
United States District Court for the Easter District of Oklahoma
Case No. CR-98-003-S
Plaintiff: C. Douglas Wood, M.D.
Summary: In one of the few criminal prosecutions of a physician for wrongful death of his patient, Dr. Wood was called to defend himself to a charge of first degree murder. Dr. Wood was indicted for allegedly causing the death of his patient "willfully, deliberately, maliciously, and with premeditation and malice aforethought" by injecting him with potassium chloride (KCL). Dr. Wood had previously operated on the patient after he presented to the emergency room for a perforated viscous. Dr. Wood treated the patient over the following week. Dr. Wood defended his actions on the morning in question by stating that he was treating an emergent condition that required extreme measures. The government called four medical experts in the matter and the defense called three local physicians to testify on behalf of Dr. Wood.
Outcome: Dr. Wood was convicted of the lesser-included offense of involuntary manslaughter. The conviction was appealed to the Tenth circuit court of Appeals, which overturned the conviction and remanded the case for re-trial. Prior to re-trial, the government dismissed the case and did not proceed further.


United States of America v. Howe
United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma
Case No. 97-CR-05-C
Plaintiff: United States of America
Defendant: Carol Howe
Summary: Commencing in August 1994, Carol Howe entered into a contract with the USA through its agents at the BATF to act as an informant. The BATF agents specifically requested Carol to associate with suspected members of the underground white resistance movement to enable her to witness and record their activities and gather documents, books, papers, propaganda and other materials. BATF agents installed video surveillance equipment in Carol's home and equipped her with audio recording equipment for her person and telephone. Carol accumulated and provided the BATF with volumes of written materials, numerous audio recordings, videotapes, hand-written notes, maps, diagrams, drugs, and components for the construction of explosive devises. After the Oklahoma City Bombing, and when her name appeared on the witness list for defense in USA v. Timothy McVeigh, Howe was indicted on three counts: conspiracy, possession of materials for making a pipe bomb and willfully making a bomb threat.
Outcome: Acquittal.


State of Oklahoma v. James A. Hogue
Tulsa County District Court
Case No. CF-97-1766
Plaintiff: State of Oklahoma
Defendant: James A. Hogue
Summary: The State filed 22 counts of embezzlement by Trustee and 1 count of caretaker abuse, neglect, financial exploitation against former District Court Judge James Hogue and his wife, Kathleen Hogue in connection with their management of the Estate of Jewell Levone Young. In a sensational case, over 900 veniremen were summoned- the most in the history of Tulsa county. Trial took approximately four weeks and was closely followed in the press.
Outcome: Acquittal.


State of Oklahoma v. Jamie Nichole Chambers
Tulsa County District Court
Case No. CF-98-1111
Plaintiff: State of Oklahoma
Defendant: Jamie Nicole Chambers
Summary: On August 22, 1997, Jamie Chambers was charge with First Degree Murder during the commission of a Felony, for the March 4, 1996 shooting of Michelle Hendrix by Steven White. Jamie reported her involvement with the crime two days after the event and fully cooperated with the authorities during their investigation. It was her testimony that directly led to the identification and arrest of the shooter, Steven White. The authorities initially labeled her as an innocent bystander to the crime, but after almost eighteen months of public pressure against the District Attorney's office, murder charges were eventually filed. The charges against Ms. Chambers were later reduced to Accessory to First Degree Murder. Because Ms. Chambers was 17-years old at the time of the alleged offense, she was first certified in the juvenile court of Tulsa County to stand trial to the charge as an adult. On April 5, 1998, Ms. Chambers pled pursuant to North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25 (1970), meaning that she maintained her innocence, but would accept a court imposed sentence. The court of Tulsa County sentenced Ms. Chambers to fifteen years incarceration. Ms. Chambers was later allowed to withdraw her plea after it was uncovered that the sentencing judge had an undisclosed conflict of interest. Ms. Chambers' case was tried to a jury in April of 2000. The defense successfully argued that Ms. Chambers lacked the specific mens rea to commit the offense.
Outcome: Acquittal.


State of Oklahoma v. Charles Elliot
Tulsa County District Court
Case No. CF 2001-1167
Plaintiff: State of Oklahoma
Defendant: Charles Elliot
Summary: On October 26, 2001, after a week long trial, a Tulsa County jury acquitted Charles W. Elliot of first degree murder in connection with the fatal shooting of a Kellyville man, Russell Holt. Charles Elliot did not know Mr. Holt. Rather, Janet Elliot, Mr. Elliot's estranged wife, had enlisted her 17-year old boyfriend and his "very large friend" (Mr. Holt), to beat up her husband. Evidence of cell phone records confirmed that Janet Elliot and her boyfriend made many calls to each other during the late hours in the days prior to the shooting. Janet Elliot and her boyfriend admitted they used methamphetamine together. Charles Elliot, who had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, retreated after pulling a gun from his pocket and fired a warning shot when Mr. Holt came aggressively toward him.
Outcome: Acquittal.