1993 killer trying to get term reduced
It appears another once-young western Oklahoma killer could possibly go free at some point in the future, this one as fallout from the successful appeal by convicted murderer Tucker McGee of his own life-without-parole sentence.
McGee of course is the young man from Weatherford who was convicted of murdering 16-year-old Jaray Wilson in 2012 by shooting her twice in the head. He was found guilty in 2015 by a Custer County jury which recommended a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole that was assessed. But his attorneys appealed because he was 10 days shy of his 18th birthday when the crime was committed, and the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals subsequently threw out the sentence. McGee then was resentenced in June this year to life with the possibility of parole, which means he could go free after approximately 33½ more years in prison.
Jerry D. Mooney was only 16 when he, either alone or with the help of another youth, beat a 93-year-old Canute man so severely during a 1993 home robbery that the victim, Robert Turley, died six months later of his injuries.
The robbery and beating occurred May 11, 1993, at Turley’s home in Canute, and he died Nov. 19, 1993.
A Clinton Daily News story from the time quoted Assistant District Attorney Luther Cowan as saying the victim was beaten with a flashlight and a frying pan. It also quoted Cowan as saying Mooney and an accomplice, Rickey Dawn Fletcher, stole Turley’s keys, car, and a watch.
Mooney was tried by a Washita County jury and convicted in 1995 of murder with malice aforethought. Jurors recommended the death penalty and it was assessed, but four years later it was thrown out by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals and he was resentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole – the same sentence McGee received at his trial 19 years later.
District Attorney Angela Marsee said at the time of McGee’s resentencing, when his punishment was changed to life in prison with the possibility of parole, that there were two other cases in her district which could be impacted by that one, and now it appears one of them has surfaced.
Mooney, the 16-year-old from 25 years ago, is now approximately 41 and has been for some time incarcerated at the Lawton Correctional Center in Lawton. But lawyers have filed an application for “post-conviction relief,” based on the fact that he too was under 18 when his crime was committed. The case came up briefly during a lengthy hearing District Judge Doug Haught held Aug. 23 at Cordell on other cases.
Mrs. Marsee and one of her assistant district attorneys, Brooke Gatlin, were present as was Richard Yohn, Mooney’s court-appointed lawyer.
Marsee requested a status conference on the case in 60 to 90 days. She also said that before agreeing to a life sentence for Mooney (presumably with the possibility of parole) she would need to see his records from the Department of Corrections.
Haught, who sometime ago announced that he would not be running for reelection this year, said the conference would have to be quicker than 60 days. After mentioning various possible dates that didn’t work out, he fin-ally declared, “I’ll schedule it for 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 25.”
He also agreed to an order for “release of confidential offender records.”
Mrs. Gatlin, who primarily works Washita County, on July 16 had filed a written brief in response to Mooney’s application for post-conviction relief.
In it she said his original jury in 1995 had found three aggravating circumstances (only one of which was necessary for the death penalty to be assessed). They were as follows: (1) the murder was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel; (2) it had been committed to avoid lawful arrest or prosecution; and (3) Mooney posed a continuing threat to society.
The brief said the jury and judge assessed his punishment at death but he appealed, and the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals agreed to vacate the death sentence because there had been two serious errors which affected the sentencing stage of the trial. “Mooney’s conviction was affirmed, but the Court modified his sentence to life without parole,” said the brief.
He subsequently filed appeals of that sentence in 2000, 2001 and 2013, all without success. But on April 11, 2018, he filed yet another appeal, and 29 days later the Court of Criminal Appeals issued a decision in another case – Stevens versus State – which Mrs. Marsee and her staff felt was probably applicable to the Mooney case. They requested additional time to determine whether evidence of Mooney’s “irreparable corruption and permanent incorrigibility” had been presented to his sentencer back in 1995 as the Stevens case now requires. The extra time was granted, and the Court (presumably Judge Haught) directed that a response be filed by July 16, 2018.
“After researching the proceedings . . . the State of Oklahoma agrees that Mooney is entitled to post-conviction relief and that this Court should issue an Order Granting Post-Conviction Relief for the purpose of conducting a sentencing consistent with the Stevens decision,” said Mrs. Gatlin’s brief.
It asked that a writ of habeas corpus be issued for Mooney which if granted, would require his appearance in Cordell for the Oct. 25 hearing.
Mooney and Fletcher, his accomplice in Turley’s robbery and beating, were living in Elk City when it occurred, but were originally from the West Coast. Cowan, the prosecutor, said Mooney was from Oregon but had lived in Elk City for more than a year when the elderly victim was attacked. Cowan said Fletcher, who got a 20-year sentence for the robbery, was from California. He is no longer listed in Oklahoma court records available to the public.