Reversal Planned For Open Court

A Judge Who Must Change A Man’s Murder Convictions To Not Guilty By Reason Of Insanity Will Do So In Public.

SALLISAW — Daniel Hawke Fears will return to a Sequoyah County courtroom Thursday to have his murder convictions officially reversed.

The convictions will be changed to not guilty by reason of insanity, and Fears will be moved from jail to a mental health hospital, a judge said Tuesday.

District Judge Jeff Payton will act on the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals’ recent precedent-setting ruling that reversed Fears’ guilty verdicts on Oct. 26, 2002, slayings of two people and woundings of eight others.

The appellate ruling compels Payton, who took office just this month, to sign off on Fears’ acquittal and order him to a mental health hospital for treatment and evaluation. Payton, however, wanted to sign the order during a public hearing.

“The Court of Criminal Appeals told us pretty much what to do,” he said. “I just felt we needed to let everybody know.”


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