Monday, August 31, 2015

Services for Sheriff Sam Lockhart Are Thursday

Services for retired Sequoyah County Sheriff Sam Calvin Lockhart will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at Immanuel Baptist Church in Sallisaw. Burial will be in Sallisaw City Cemetery under direction of Agent Mallory Martin Funeral Home.

Mr. Lockhart died Sunday, Aug. 30, in Sallisaw.

Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the funeral home. The family will greet visitors from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday.

Mr. Lockhart, 95, was born May 29, 1920, in Searcy, Arkansas, to Grover Cleveland and Rosie (Manuel) Lockhart.

Mr. Lockhart was a U.S. Army veteran of World War II when he served with the Military Police, his nephew, present Sequoyah County Sheriff Ron Lockhart, said. Mr. Lockhart served as a Sallisaw police officer from 1971 to 1972 and as Sallisaw Chief of Police from 1973 to 1977. He was Sequoyah County Undersheriff from 1977 to 1981. He then sought election to the post of county sheriff and was re-elected, serving from 1981 to 1989, when he retired. The present Sheriff Lockhart said, "I took office exactly 20 years from the day he retired."

Mr. Lockhart married Eula Frances Meadows on Oct. 9, 1942. She preceded him in death on Feb. 2, 1973. He married Emma Sue King on March 1, 1974, and she preceded him in death on Jan. 5, 2010.

Survivors include his children, Sharon and Marion Lee of Jacksonville, Ark., Linda Lockhart Morgan of the home, and Sammy Lockhart of Sallisaw; grandchildren, Deanna Justice and husband, Tommy, Jason Dotson and wife, Tanya, Calvin Lockhart and wife, Stephanie, Trey Lockhart and wife, Mady, and Ryan Rodgers and Megan Rodgers; his great-grandchildren, Kyle Brunk and wife, Amber, Colt Justice, Meghan Dotson, Jensyn Rhodes, Jace Dotson, Casey Lockhart, Kimie Lockhart, Kody Lockhart. Aubrey Lee and Anna Lee; great-great-grandchildren Hannah Brunk, Ryder Justice, River Brunk and Blaze Justice; and one sister, Sybil Cardin of Hendersonville, Tenn.

For a complete obituary visit

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Cherokee Nation Holiday is Sept. 4-6

More than 100,000 visitors are expected for the 63rd Cherokee National Holiday, which runs Sept. 4-6 Tahlequah. The tribe's largest annual celebration commemorates the signing of the Cherokee Nation Constitution in 1839.

This year's "reunion" theme incorporates family gatherings and large-scale activities and extends this year to the bison herd that has returned to Cherokee Nation soil for the first time in 40 years.

New attractions include a performance of "Peter and the Wolf" in Cherokee on Sept. 5, tours on traditional Cherokee plants, a reunion for descendants of former Principal Chief John Ross, a tribal film festival and free trolley transportation around Tahlequah. Annual favorites also return to the Cherokee National Holiday, such as the only parade emceed in Cherokee, the State of the Nation address by Principal Chief Bill John Baker and one of the largest inter tribal powwows in the country. All events are free.

"The Cherokee National Holiday is something we look forward to each and every year. It marks the largest homecoming of Cherokee citizens and is a three-day celebration of Cherokee history and heritage," said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. "From the annual powwow to the downtown parade, cultural demonstrations to the traditional games, great food and wonderful music, there is something for everyone to experience. We encourage everyone to come enjoy the hospitality of the Cherokee Nation."

The tribe's One Big Family Reunion event is scheduled from 1-4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 5, at the W.W. Keeler Complex. It is designed to help Cherokee citizens trace their family lineage to the Dawes Roll. Tribal officials are hoping to use data collected to create a family tree database similar to

Chief Baker will deliver his State of the Nation address at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 5 at the Cherokee Nation Capitol Square.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Gilbert Asbill Remembers the Cowboy Life

Gilbert Asbill of Sallisaw, retired teacher and school administrator, remembers what it was like as a young cowboy in Sequoyah County back in the day when cattle ranching was dominate.

Asbill, who will celebrate his 82nd birthday on Sept. 18, worked cattle on his father's ranch in the 1940s in the Northview area in northern Sequoyah County.

He recalled recently, "Dad had about 150 head. It was a way of life. I never got paid anything. It was a pleasure. I didn't associate it with work." Asbill said he's been working cattle and bailing hay ever since he was age 14.

Asbill was taken back to those days of free range after the recent Sallisaw rodeo. He recalled that northern Sequoyah County, north of the railroad which intersects the county from east to west, was all open range, where cattle and horses both ran free. That required that all those stock raisers had their own brands.

Asbill remembers the Garvin Ranch near Akins, and their 101 brand. "Most people don't know it, but Highway 101 was named after that ranch," he recalled.

Benjamin Frank Garvin and his sons had between 200 and 300 head of cattle. "They were the biggest cattle owners that used the land," Asbill recalls. 

According to a genealogy web site, Asbill is correct. The Garvins, including son Benjamin Franklin "Tuff" Garvin Jr. whom Asbill remembers, were among the biggest cattle producers in the Indian Territory and had more than 1,200 head of cattle at one time. They ranged from the Boston Mountains of Arkansas west to the Illinois River, north as far as Greasy and Stilwell and south to the bottom lands of the Arkanas River.

Asbill remembers taking his family's cattle and other herds to the northern sections of the county, then rounding them up to bring them home to winter. "We wintered our cattle at the house," he recalled. 

Asbill laughed, "Oh yeah. There was always a bunch of boys that worked the calves back then."

But young cowboys eventually grow up, and Asbill left the area in 1951 to join the U.S. Army. He returned in 1953.

"I fooled around until 1954," Asbill recalls. That's when he decided college would be the best choice. He graduated from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, and finished his master's degree in math at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. He taught and was a principal at Sallisaw's junior high and middle schools.

But during those years in education, Asbill did not forget his cowboy upbringing, and joined the Sequoyah County Roundup Club with some of its earliest members. Asbill recalls his friends were Orman and Ima Taylor, Bob Cotton, Joe Rigsby, Punk Rigsby, Immanuel Drake, and Bill Cassidy, who, along with Asbill, are just two of the few original club members still living.

Asbill said the club often held calf openings at night for members, in which he happily participated, along with Dwight Graham, Gary Folks and Jerry Asbill. He never competed as a rodeo cowboy, but helped with the club's rodeo, which grew immensely over the years. 

"We've seen a lot of improvements over those years," Asbill recalled about the rodeo and the rodeo grounds. "We considered it a community service. We built the arena, the chutes and the bleachers. Bob Cotton did the welding."

As time past roundup club members grew old and left the scene.

"The original members kept dying off," Asbill recalled. "Orman Taylor, Bill Cassidy and I were the only ones left."

The late Orman Taylor died June 15 this year at the age of 92.

Asbill recalled how the popular Sallisaw rodeo eventually became a project of the Sallisaw Lion's Club. He said, "Bill Cassidy came to me and said we're the only ones left. What should we do? We decided to give the rodeo to  the Lions Club and we donated our money, $10,000 to the Lions Club."

But Asbill hasn't given up all his cowboy ways. He still wears a western shirt and jeans, and old, repaired cowboy boots. He still enjoys the rodeo and his sharp mind remembers the cowboy life, although he doesn't think it's out of the ordinary.

He concluded, "I'm kind of a jack of all trades and a master of none."

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Hope Released from Hospital after Football Injury

Jake Hope, the Muldrow freshman injured in Thursday night's scrimmage against Checotah, has been released from the Tulsa hospital he was admitted to after being removed from the field by helicopter.

Hope was injured during play and it was originally believed that he had sustained a serious injury, possibly a broken neck or spinal cord injury.

Hope was flown to Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa where doctor's determined that he was suffering from a "stinger". A "stinger" is said to be when a nerve is hit and goes numb for 12 to 24 hours. No permanent damage was found.

Hope's family would like to express their gratitude for all the support they received during this scary time. According to family members Hope's coaches were very supportive, staying with him until the first responders, the ambulance crew and helicopter flight staff were able to provide medical care. 

"I want to thank all of our good friends and our Muldrow family for their prayers. We are blessed to live in a town that is so loving and caring," stated Jake's grandmother, Darlene Hope. "Everyone's prayers, including those of our fans and also Checotah's fans, helped Jake get through what could have been a terrible accident."

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Upcoming Events Announced

Sallisaw has many upcoming events this fall, which were announced at the Sallisaw Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon meeting Wednesday. Following are a few of those events.

*Carl Albert State College Sallisaw Campus is encouraging students to shop locally, and businesses that wish to join the program need only contact Dr. Kathy Harrell at the Sallisaw campus. Email Harrell at or call 918-775-6977. Many of the businesses provide students with discounts, and those joining the program get a decal and are added to a list distributed to students, staff and faculty.

*Sequoyah Memorial Hospital's Second Annual Awareness Stroll for breast cancer will be held Oct. 3. Registration is at 10 a.m. at the hospital's professional building, and the walk begins at 10:30 a.m. The first 50 to register get a free t-shirt. The Awareness Luncheon for breast cancer will be held at 11:30 a.m. in the Professional Building. The event includes guest speakers and information, and is funded by a grant from the Susan G. Komen Foundation in Tulsa.

*Walk A Mile in Her Shoes, a fundraiser for Help-in-Crisis, will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 28 in downtown Sallisaw. The event is sponsored by Carl Albert State College, and is a men's march to stop rape, sexual assault and gender violence. Registration may be made online at, search keyword: Sallisaw-Walk A Mile in Her Shoes, or register at the CASC Sallisaw or Poteau business offices. For more information call 918-776-0002.

*The Sallisaw Chamber's Kerr Lake Bassnanza will be held Oct. 31 this year. A fundraiser for the chamber, this event provides 100 percent payback. The entry fee is $150 per boat or $25 for a big bass entry. The chamber provides a meal for participants at the weigh in on Saturday. The weigh in is at Applegate Cove Boat Ramp and Campground. Free t-shirts are given to those who enter by Oct. 21, and prize drawings are also held. For information call the chamber at 918-775-2558 or visit Forms are available at and questions may be sent to

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Muldrow Player Recovering in Tulsa Hospital

In an update to a story we brought you earlier, a Muldrow football player is recovering in a Tulsa hospital after being injured in a scrimmage and Lifeflighted from the field. 

On Thursday evening during a scrimmage with Checotah, Muldrow freshman Jake Hope received a jarring blow that led fans and emergency personnel to fear that he could have possibly had his neck broken. Witnesses report that Hope initially complained of numbness and an inability to feel one side of his body. 

Hope was flown from the field by helicopter to Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa. Reports indicate that he did not receive any broken bones and does not have any nerve damage. Doctors referred to what happened to Hope as a "stinger". A "stinger" is said to be when a nerve is hit and goes numb for 12 to 24 hours. A "stinger" can be an intensely painful nerve injury. The nerves that give feeling to the extremities originate from the cervical (neck) spinal cord area.

According to family, Hope is already feeling better and the numbness is going away. If all numbness is gone tomorrow he could possibly be released from the hospital.

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Muldrow Football Player Lifeflighted from Scrimmage

A 9th grade Muldrow football player was injured tonight during a pre-season scrimmage. Jake Hope was injured during a play and was Lifeflighted by helicopter (above) from the Marty Rogers Football Field/Aubrey J. Henshaw Stadium to Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa. Initial reports are that Hope possibly suffered a broken neck. We will update this story as more details become available. 

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Mayberry Traveling to Dallas for Treatment; Help Needed with Living Expenses

Kim Mayberry, mother of 18-year-old Christian Mayberry who suffered a traumatic brain injury two years ago on Sept. 1, said her family has come far and gotten close to recovery for Christian. They have another opportunity at recovery next week.

That's when Christian will be going to Carrick Brain Center in Dallas, Texas. Thanks to a generous donation from Julie Weintraub's Hands Across the Bay Foundation in Tampa, Fla., the family will be traveling Tuesday to Dallas for Christian's treatments. Hands Across the Bay donated $15,000 for the treatment. However, that does not pay for traveling and living expenses while Christian and his parents stay in Dallas for the two weeks he will be receiving the treatments.

Kim Mayberry said the family does not have the money for those living expenses. She said the hotel which offers special rates for those undergoing treatment and even a shuttle to the center, will cost well over $2,700. In addition, the family must have their own money for gas and meals during the two weeks Christian will be in and out at the center. The hotel provides handicapped-accessible rooms, with kitchenettes for families, which will help reduce the cost of eating out at restaurants, Kim said, since she can do the cooking. A handicapped-accessible room is needed for Christian, she said.

Anyone wishing to help the Mayberrys in this next step in Christian's recovery may donate to the family at Just google Christian Mayberry to reach the link. Kim Mayberry said the donation amount shown on the donation site has already been spent on previous treatments. 

She said, "We are so grateful to Julie Weintraub and her Hands Across the Bay Foundation and to all those who have helped us. Thank you so much."
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Lady Wolverines Win Championship

The Vian Lady Wolverines fast pitch softball team won four straight games last week to capture the Pocola Invitational Championship.

In the first round the Lady Wolverines (5-1) defeated the Gore Lady Pirates 6 to 0 in four innings. Sophomore Addison Elbon went 3 for 3, with one double, two singles, three steals and two runs.

In the quarterfinals Vian defeated the Muldrow Lady Bulldogs 8 to 2 to advance to the semifinals.

In game one of the semifinals, against Pocola, the Lady Wolverines won 6 to 0 in five innings. Sophomore Shandria Jackson allowed only three hits over six innings. Elbon, Megan Eckhardt and Miley Hughes all were 2 for 3.

In game two against Pocola, the Lady Wolverines defeated the Lady Indians 3 to 1. Jackson put Vian on the board with a two-run home run in the first. She also struck out five and gave up only seven hits. Pocola gave the Lady Wolverines a scare in the bottom of the fifth when they had the bases loaded, but Vian got out of the inning with no runs scored. Chloe Clifton added a solo home run in the sixth to seal the championship for Vian.

 The Lady Wolverines only allowed three runs in four wins at the invitational.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

City Named Member of the Month; VP Talks about CASC

The City of Sallisaw was named the Sallisaw Chamber of Commerce Member of the Month at the chamber's monthly luncheon meeting Wednesday. Chamber President Darren Girdner, third from the left above, presented the award. Accepting are, from the left, Sallisaw Mayor Julie Ferguson, City Manager Clayton Lucas II and City Commissioner Daryl Legg, right.

Girdner noted some facts about the city before presenting the award.

He noted the city was established on March 17, 1886, when the Kansas Arkansas Valley Railroad, now Missouri Pacific Railroad, was completed. The first businesses were a cotton gin, a saw mill and a coffin shop, which eventually became Wheeler Funeral Home and is now Agent Mallory Martin Funeral Home and Cremation Services. The city has been in the possession of Spain, France, the Cherokee Nation and the United States.

*From 2000 to 2010 the city had an 11 percent population increase, from 7, 981 to 8,900.

*The city employs about 120 people.

*Sallisaw was the first in the state to have fiber optic services to the home, which is Diamondnet.

*Sallisaw is one of only three cities of the same size that owns its own landfill.

*Sallisaw is one of seven cities of the same size to own its own electric, water and sewer services.

*The city has 19 firefighters and a fire chief, and a low ISO rating at 5, which means lower insurance costs.

*Sallisaw is in the top 10 for the lowest crime rates for a city its size. The city has 23 law enforcement officers.

*The city has five parks.

*Sallisaw was recently named one of the top five retirement communities in the state.

*Sallisaw supports its own award-winning hospital.

*The city has its own community college, Carl Albert State College.

Girdner concluded, "Sallisaw has always been known as a progressive community with a commitment to improving utilities, parks and all other aspects that we as citizens are blessed to be able to enjoy on a daily basis."

Dr. Kathy Harrell, vice president of Carl Albert State College (CASC) Sallisaw Campus, presented the program on the impact of CASC on the community.

CASC is one of 12 community colleges in the state and 12 institutions in the region, and educates about 10 percent of the state's population. "That's pretty impressive," Harrell said.

In 2011, every $1 spent by CASC returned $6.10 and about $5 in the present economy. Harrell pointed out that $17.5 million was spent by CASC students.

CASC offers seven entire programs, in addition to its two-year degree programs, and three on-line programs. Its newest programs are Health Information Technology and Occupational Health and Safety.

CASC and Northeastern State University, Tahlequah, have joined in a partnership for elementary and special education degrees for future teachers, which means students may transfer seamlessly from CASC to NSU while obtaining their four-year degree, and must only travel to NSU about 12 times per year.

The CASC Sallisaw Committee for Excellence has awarded $330,905 in scholarships to 480 students, Harrell said.

CASC President Garry Ivey also announced that CASC and Sallisaw Schools are working on a program for high school students.

Harrell told the chamber crowd, "I am very proud of this institution and I hope you are too."

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Man Killed in Motorcycle Crash

A motorcycle crash early Wednesday left a man dead and a woman in critical condition. The crash was found at about 4 a.m. by Muldrow police at the westbound exit in Muldrow.

Muldrow Police Chief George Lawson reported the man was Robert "Bob" Springer, 51, of Broken Arrow. He appeared to have suffered head injuries, and his body was transported to the Tulsa Medical Examiner's office. The woman is Nicole Blake, 40, also of Broken Arrow. She was life flighted to Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville, Ark., hospital and was listed in critical condition. She suffered head, hand, back and leg injuries.

Lawson said it is not known exactly when the crash occurred. The man's wife, who was at home in Broken Arrow, woke up at about 3:30 a.m. and when she discovered he was not home, she pinged his cell phone and found him to be in Muldrow. She called and Officer Ronnie Howard found the scene and the victims shortly after 4 a.m..

Lawson said it appeared the motorcycle veered to the right, sheared off the post on the exit sign, then traveled on another 200 feet before coming to a stop. The cause of the accident is still under investigation. 

"He either just veered off the interstate or saw the sign and was trying to take the exit, maybe to buy gas. We're not sure how long they were there," Lawson said.

Lawson said the man is originally from Fort Smith, and was visiting with friends in a Fort Smith bar. The man and woman were last seen at about 7:15 p.m. by his friends, Lawson said.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Vian Teens Escape Injury in Crash

A Park Hill woman was hospitalized but three area teens were reported not injured in a wreck at 11:12 p.m. Saturday about 16 miles south of Tahlequah. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) reported Kassi Burkart, 18, of Park Hill was admitted to Tahlequah City Hospital with head injuries and was listed in stable condition.

The OHP reported a 16-year-old male and a 15-year-old male, both of Vian, and a 16-year-old male from Cookson were not injured in the one-vehicle crash. The OHP does not release the names of juveniles involved in wrecks. The Cookson Fire Department was called upon to free two of the teens who were pinned in the vehicle.

The OHP reported Burkart was driving a 2003 Jeep east on State Highway 82 when she failed to negotiate a curve and ran off the road to the right. The jeep rolled an unknown number of times before stopping on its wheels in a ditch. 

The crash is still under investigation, according to the OHP.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Gore Man in Court Sept. 24 on Rape, Molestation Charges

A 34-year-old Gore man may go to trial next month on numerous first-degree rape and lewd molestation charges. Troy L. Sands is charged with the rape and molestation of two sisters who were ages six and seven at the time, between 2008 and 2010. The charges were filed in Sequoyah County District Court in Sallisaw on June 12, 2014, and Sands was arrested the same day. He was arrested after the girls' mother found out about the allegations and reported them to Muldrow police. Sands entered a not guilty plea on Oct. 4. 

His case is now on District Judge Jeff Payton's jury trial sounding docket Sept. 24, when a new jury trial docket is set to begin, and when it will be determined if the case is ready to go to trial.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Dimitt Faces Five Cruelty Counts

Robert Dimitt, 57, of Sallisaw now faces five counts of cruelty to animals involving race horses in his care. 

Dimitt entered a not guilty plea to the charges last week in Sequoyah County District Court in Sallisaw. Dimitt is represented by Tahlequah attorney Donn Baker.

Dimitt's case is on Judge Kyle Waters disposition docket on Oct. 28.

Dimitt, who lost his racing license as a trainer in Oklahoma for using drugs on horses, was training horses under the name of another trainer, Ty Blackwell, according to the affidavit filed with the charges in district court. Blackwell told investigators that Dimitt would carve out the bottom of horse hooves called the frog, because "it made the horses run faster."

Four of the five horses have died or had to be euthanized, according to the report, and another is in veterinary care. It is not know if the filly will survive, the affidavit reports. Three of the horses belonged to Dr. Edward Leslie, one belonged to Stormy and Phillip Rassfield and one belonged to Randy Davis.

The first set of three charges against Dimitt were filed for the horses owned by Leslie, who owns the one surviving horse, and the second set of charges were for the horses owned by the Rassfields and Davis. 

All remaining horses have been removed from Dimitt's care, Sheriff Ron Lockhart said.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Sallisaw Police Seek Information on Stolen Trailers

Sallisaw police are asking the public to help identify stolen property.

Officers arrested two men early Monday on weapons charges. But the two men, Jessie Nutt, 20, of Vian and Rickey Webster, 25, of Tulsa, would not tell them where the stolen trailers they were in possession of were from. They were pulling the trailers with a silver four-door Nissan Frontier. Police believe the trailers were stolen in Sequoyah County or from a neighboring county. They ask that anyone with information about the trailers call the Sallisaw Police Dept. at (918)775-4177.

One trailer is a small single-axle trailer with a Miller Bobcat welder attached. A cutting torch and an air compressor were on the trailer. The second trailer is a tandem-axle utility trailer with angle iron rails and a wooden floor.

Anyone recognizing the trailers as stolen may also contact their local law enforcement agency.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Shop Owner Pleads Not Guilty to Sexual Battery

A Muldrow pawn shop owner has pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of sexual battery. The charge was filed in Sequoyah County District Court on Aug. 5, and  Ronnie Woodrow Wear, 62, entered a not guilty plea on Aug. 17. He is free on a $5,000 bond.

Wear owns Wear Pawn in Muldrow.

A former female employee, who said she worked at the pawn shop from October 2013 to June 27 this year, told police Wear touched her in suggestive ways, which were allegedly captured on video at the shop, and texted her as many as 40 to 50 times per day.

Wear's next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 15 on a disposition docket.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Mobile Home Destroyed by Fire

A fire Saturday morning in the Cherry Street Trailer Park in Sallisaw left a family of five homeless.

Sallisaw Fire Chief Anthony Armstrong said the first call came in at about 10:25 a.m. Saturday. The fire was in No. 9 at 300 N. Cherry, a mobile home leased by the Travis Carter family. Carter was at work, Armstrong said, and his wife and three children did escape the blaze. There were no injuries, Armstrong said, but the mobile home was a "complete loss."

Armstrong said fire was coming out both sides of the trailer when firefighters arrived, and the 14 firefighters who fought the fire had to lay a hose to a nearby fire hydrant to contain the blaze. The fire also damaged the family's car by melting headlight lenses and the plastic bumper. Firemen had to douse the mobile home next door when the blaze began melting that home's under pining.

Armstrong said the Red Cross was contacted to help the family with clothing and other necessities. He said the family told firemen they could stay with relatives. 

The family said they were leasing to buy the trailer and had no insurance.

Armstrong said he did not believe the fire was caused by lightning during a storm that hit the area early Saturday. He said the cause was still under investigation but the fire appeared to be accidental.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Warner Elected to District 6 Cherokee Council Position

Eight of the 17 Cherokee Nation tribal councilors took the oath of office on Aug. 14 for four-year terms. Two were reelected to their posts and six are newly elected.

Newly elected Bryan Warner (above) of Sallisaw stated, "I am humbled and honored to be elected to serve the Cherokee Citizens of District 6. I would like to thank my family and all of my supporters who made this campaign successful. I look forward to working with the citizens of this district to help improve the overall health of The Cherokee Nation.

Warner (above) will serve as co-chair of the health committee. Frankie Hargis chairs the committee. Warner also joins Hargis, Janees Taylor and Curtis Snell as advisory board members on the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation Board.

Councilor Joe Byrd, former chief and formerly of Nicut, was elected to the post of speaker of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council, with Victoria Vazsquez being elected deputy speaker and Hargis elected as secretary.

"With the new individuals coming on board, this tribal council is in position to continue the progress the Cherokee Nation has made in recent years," Byrd said. "I am truly anxious to see what our legislative body can accomplish when we work with the mindset of what is best for the Cherokee Nation."

Frank Thornton of Vian continues as advisory board member on the Cherokee Nation Businesses board.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Man Arrested in County Sentenced in U.S. Court

A Georgia man, arrested in Sequoyah County, was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Muskogee. Tory Derrel Larkins, 30, of Lithia, Georgia, was sentenced to 40 months, followed by 36 months of supervised released for possession of counterfeit securities. Larkins pleaded guilty to the charge in April.

The charge arose from an investigation by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) and the U.S. Secret Service.

On Oct. 9 last year, Larkins was driving east on Interstate 40 and was clocked at 78 miles per hour in a 70 mile per hour zone. He was stopped by an OHP trooper at the 299 eastbound mile marker.

The trooper noticed Larkins was nervous, his hands were shaking uncontrollably and his stomach was quivering. Larkins gave the trooper several stories about his travels while seated in the OHP car, then reached into a pocket and pulled out what he told the trooper were gift cards. When the trooper asked to see the cards, Larkins stuck them back in his pocket and refused to hand them over.

He also would not remove his hand from his pocket, suggesting to the trooper that he may have been searching for a weapon. When the trooper demanded Larkins remove his hand from his pocket, Larkins refused. The trooper physically removed Larkins from the patrol car and told him he was under arrest. According to the report, Larkins refused to comply and continued to struggle with the trooper on the ground. A second trooper arrived and Larkins was taken into custody.

The investigation revealed Larkins was driving without a valid license, was driving a third-party expired rental vehicle, and had 60 alleged counterfeit checks, some of which had been denied and some of which were used to purchase gift cards.

Larkins will remain in the custody of the U.S. Marshal Service pending transportation to a federal prison where he will serve the non-parolable sentence.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Sallisaw Ranked Among Top 5 in Senior Recreation

Sallisaw has one of the best senior social scenes in Oklahoma, according to SmartAsset, a financial technology company.

Steve Sabato with SmartAsset revealed in a press release, "Retirement presents a chance for many Americans to meet new people and create new experiences and according to a new study Sallisaw is among the best places to do it in Oklahoma. The study, by SmartAsset, ranked the cities with the most recreational and social opportunities for retirees. SmartAsset's index factors in the number of recreation centers and retirement centers available to seniors as well as what percentage of the city's population they represent."

The study put Sallisaw at the number five spot on the list for having the best and most recreational and social opportunities for retirees in Oklahoma. Grove was listed as number one in the state by SmartAsset.

Sabato said, "A happy, healthy retirement depends a lot on location. To find the best places to retire, SmartAsset gathered data on three separate regional factors that affect the quality of life for retirees. First we looked at state and local taxes, considering two types of taxes--income and sales. We calculated effective rates based on a typical retiree, earning $35,000 annually (from retirement savings, Social Security or part-time employment), and spending their disposable income on table goods. Next we determined the number of doctors' offices, recreation centers and retirement centers per thousand residents in each area. Finally, we found the number of seniors in each area as a percentage of the total population."

According to SmartAsset, Sallisaw's seniors are 17.2 percent of the city's population. "In our final analysis, we ranked each county and city on these three factors, and calculated an average ranking for each area, weighting the three factors equally," Sabato explained.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Friday, August 21, 2015

Dimitt Formally Charged with Cruelty

Robert Dimitt, 57, was formally charged with two counts of cruelty to animals Thursday in Sequoyah County District Court in Sallisaw.

The charges resulted from an investigation that found dead and mutilated horses in Dimitt's care and at his farm in Sallisaw's east side.

Dimmitt, a racehorse trainer, had lost his license to be the trainer of record in Oklahoma, but he continued to train as his horses raced under the training licenses of two other individuals.

Dimitt was arrested Aug. 7 for animal cruelty, and is free on a $25,000 bond.

The investigation began when the agent for a horse owner came to Sallisaw to check on the owners two horses, and found one dead and one in such bad shape it had to be put down. Another horse owned by the same man was found to be crippled at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico. An investigation is ongoing there too. That filly, Gold Digging Ashley, winner of over $355,000 horses, is in the care of a veterinary clinic.

It was reported the horses had lost immense amounts of weight, and had the bottoms of their hooves, which is called the frog, cut away.

Sheriff Ron Lockhart said Dimitt had about 22 horses in his care, and all have been recovered by their owners or other trainers.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Barrett's Defense to Be Reviewed

A Vian man, who faces execution for the murder of an Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) trooper, will have his defense reviewed, the 10th U.S.Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday.

Kenneth Eugene Barrett, 54, (above, top) has been in jail and prison ever since Sept. 24, 1999, when he shot at a contingent of OHP troopers who stormed Barrett's home just off Dwight Mission Road in a drug raid. Barrett was suspected of manufacturing and selling methamphetamines.

Barrett opened fire on the troopers and shot two in the front vehicle. David "Rocky" Eales (above) died in the shooting and John "Buddy" Hamilton was wounded.

Barrett was found guilty of manslaughter in Sequoyah County District Court, Sallisaw, but not given the death penalty.  Instead he was given 20 years for Eales death and another 10 for the wounding of Hamilton. A second trial in U.S. Federal Court in Muskogee resulted in the death penalty. In that case he was found guilty of intentionally killing a law enforcement officer engaged in the line of duty.

On Wednesday the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a hearing should be held to determine if Barrett was adequately represented at trial, and if his attorneys failed to present evidence about Barrett's mental health. The hearing will be held before a federal judge in U.S. Court in Muskogee. If it is determined Barrett's defense was insufficient, he could avoid the death penalty.

In the ruling, the appeals court wrote Barrett's "history suggests mental illness."

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Jury Deadlocks; Gray Will Be Tried Again

The jury deadlocked in the case of Angela Gray, 40, of Muldrow Thursday. District Judge Jeff Payton announced the deadlock at 6:30 p.m. after eight and a half hours of deliberation by the six-man, six-woman jury.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Ashworth said he will retry the case.

One juror stated that one of the main items that the members were unable to agree on was regarding who was driving the ATV at the time of the accident. The jurors were asked by Judge Payton if there was any possibility that further deliberation could lead to an unanimous decision. Each juror responded that there was no possibility of this occurring. 

Gray was charged with failure to stop at an accident resulting in non-fatal injury, a felony, and one count of contributing to the delinquency of minors. She was found not guilty on that count. A third count of selling or furnishing alcoholic beverages to minors was not to be considered by the jury, Judge Payton said.

The felony count was prompted by an ATV crash on Sept. 1, 2013, when Christian Mayberry, 16 at that time, received a traumatic brain injury. Gray said Mayberry was driving the ATV. Mayberry testified that Gray was driving the ATV.

Another jury docket is scheduled for September, but Judge Payton said it may be hard for the district attorney's office to be ready to retry the case by that time.

Kim Mayberry, Christian's mother who has fought for his recovery and for justice for her son, said after the deadlock was announced, "As a family we are disappointed today. It's been a long two years. We had hoped to put an end to it today but the family is ready to continue on."

The attorneys for both sides launched into fiery closing arguments on Thursday morning.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Ashworth reviewed the timeline and witnesses testimony that Gray was seen driving the ATV with Mayberry as a passenger.

Defense attorney Gary Buckles of Poteau pointed out that the state had the burden of proof, but left out vital information, and he questioned how Mayberry's cell phone was used several times after the crash of the ATV.

Ashworth, returning to his opening argument theme, told the jury the accident and Mayberry's injury, "...was too high a price. He paid it. Christian Mayberry paid the price for a 38-year-old woman to hang out with teenage boys."

Ashworth pointed out the bartender at the VFW was closing before 8 p.m. on the night of Sept. 1, 2013, when she testified two men and two women (Gerald and Rachel Griffin, Gray and Mayberry) stopped at the VFW where the man (Griffin) wanted to buy beer and cigarettes, which she refused to sell since she was closing.

Ashworth reminded jurors that a friend of Mayberry's, Cade Matthews, testified he saw Mayberry and Gray at Curt's convenience store between 8:30 and 9 p.m. on Sept. 1, 2013, and that Gray was driving the ATV. Matthews testified he did not see Gray's friends, the Griffins, at the store, as the Griffins had testified.

Ashworth reviewed the testimony of former friends of Grays who said they had spoken to her allegedly immediately after the accident and she did not speak about Mayberry being injured, but said she wanted to call her son, Joey Gray, who had been in an accident.

Ashworth pointed out that although Gray testified her cell phone was damaged in the accident, and the cell phones of Joey Gray and Kyle Brannon would not connect in the bottoms south of Muldrow where the  crash took place, phone records indicated 50 phone calls were made from those three cell phones between the hours of 9 p.m. and midnight on Sept. 1, 2013.

Mayberry, Ashworth pointed out, testified Gray was driving the ATV and that she was going too fast. Mayberry testified that while he lay injured on the ground he heard Gray say, "We have to get the (bleep) out of here."

In her statements, Gray said Mayberry hit his head on the top of the ATV, but his brain injury was on the right lower quadrant of his skull, Ashworth said when pointing out inconsistencies in Gray's testimony. He also pointed out two "slips" made in Gray's testimony when she said Mayberry had lain in the ditch "three hours." And also when she stated, "He couldn't have heard our conversation."

Ashworth asked the jury to consider, "All the tangles and webs of deceits" in the conflicting testimonies.

He concluded, "She was the only adult there, yet she made the most juvenile of choices. Christian Mayberry will have to live with that choice the rest of his life."

Buckles immediately attacked Ashworth's closing remarks and accused the prosecution of character assassination in Gray's case.

He told the jury it was up to the prosecution to prove Gray behaved in a willful or malicious manner, which the prosecution had not done. He argued that although Ashworth called Gray a "cool mom" who wanted to hang out with teenage boys, he presented no evidence to support that claim.

Buckles questioned the use of Mayberry's cell phone, which was used to make calls even after the crash. Buckles pointed out the prosecution did not produce the records for Mayberry's cell phone, and added he did not even know where the cell phone was until the OHP trooper who investigated the crash testified Wednesday that he had the cell phone.

"Where is the evidence from Christian Mayberry's phone?" Buckles asked.

Buckles argued that a prosecution witness, Taben Morris, admitted she lied in statements made to investigators, and the prosecution's own witnesses who saw Gray immediately after the crash described her as "frantic" and "upset."

He pointed out that the bartender at the VFW saw Gray with her friends, the Griffins, and Mayberry. They then went on to Curt's store for beer and cigarettes. "They were together at the VFW but not at Curt's," he explained.

Buckles concluded by asking the jury to not compound one tragedy (Mayberry's injury) with another (finding Gray guilty).

After a long week where friends, family and supporters of Christian Mayberry spent hours in the courtroom anxiously waiting to hear the verdict, this phase of the story has come to a close. However, family and prosecutors both have vowed to continue to fight for "Justice for Mayberry," the motto that they have been clinging to.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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