Associated Press

Custer County Sheriff

The state's top law enforcement agency is investigating after sheriff's deputies discovered a body on the Washita River earlier this week.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation took over the case after the medical examiner notified authorities about suspicious injuries found on the body.

The Custer County Sheriff's Office was initially called Wednesday after the body was discovered on the river south of the town of Clinton in western Oklahoma.

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 New Mexico State Police say an officer shot and wounded a man from Oklahoma during a traffic stop on Interstate 40 in Gallup.

They say 33-year-old Steven Thompson of Oklahoma City was shot in the abdomen and taken to a hospital for treatment Friday morning.

State police say an officer stationed in Gallup stopped a vehicle on the west end of Gallup for a traffic violation around 7 a.m.

The officer asked the driver — later identified as Thompson — to stay out of the vehicle.

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Oklahoma's Republican Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb has filed paperwork indicating his plan to run for governor in 2018, a year in which nearly every statewide elected office will be open because of term limits.

Lamb filed a statement of organization on Friday with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission and issued a statement in which he said he was "strongly considering" running in 2018.

Oklahoma's current Gov. Mary Fallin is term limited.

An Enid native and a former state senator, the 45-year-old Lamb was elected lieutenant governor in 2010.

Pottawatomie County Booking Photo

 A man charged in the fatal shooting of an Oklahoma police officer has been booked into jail.

Online records indicate 36-year-old Byron James Shepard of Okemah is being held in the Pottawatomie County Jail on Friday after being released from a hospital where he was treated for gunshot wounds.

Shepard is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Tecumseh Police Officer Justin Terney, who died on March 27 after being shot a day earlier.

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 Officials say portions of a sprawling U.S. Air Force base have reopened in Oklahoma after being evacuated because of a "security concern."

Tinker Air Force Base said in a statement Friday that authorities evacuated an area near Gott Gate after security at the Oklahoma City base learned that a truck making a routine delivery was stopped due to the possibility of an explosive residue.

Tinker officials say the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office responded and determined there was no threat to the base or surrounding buildings.

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 An initiative petition supported by a group of retailers including Wal-Mart that would allow optometrists to operate inside retail establishments is being challenged by Oklahoma optometrists.

The Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians filed a legal challenge on Friday to the petition filed by Oklahomans for Consumer Freedom.

The retail group wants to launch a signature drive to get a question on the ballot that would nullify state laws prohibiting optometrists from operating inside a retail establishment.

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 Texas' attorney general is applauding the suspension of federal surveys along the Red River that property owners claimed would help the government seize their land.

In a statement Friday, Republican Ken Paxton vowed to "defend Texas' border from federal overreach."

In 2013, the Bureau of Land Management began revising regulations on federal holdings in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas while updating its Resource Management Plan. Some ranchers feared expropriation of their land.

Governor Fallin

 

Oklahomans as young as 18 who have served in the military would be able to receive a handgun license under a bill signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin.

The "Handgun Carry Military Exemption Act" is one of 11 bills signed by Fallin on Thursday. It modifies existing law that requires individuals to be at least 21 years old to obtain a license to carry a handgun.

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 A man charged with beheading a co-worker and trying to kill another co-worker at an Oklahoma food processing plant has been found competent to plead guilty to murder.

A Cleveland County judge on Thursday ruled that 32-year-old Alton Nolen is mentally competent to plead guilty to first-degree murder for the September 2014 death of 54-year-old Colleen Hufford at Vaughan Foods in Moore. He launched the attack shortly after the company suspended him for racial remarks. He's also accused of trying to kill another co-worker.

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 State officials say the unemployment rate is dropping in most Oklahoma counties, though some counties remain well above the national rate for people out of work.

The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission says McIntosh County had the highest unemployment rate in Oklahoma in February at 8.7 percent. That's followed by Latimer County at 8.3 percent and Stephens County at 7.8 percent.

The statewide jobless rate was 4.6 percent in February, just below the national rate of 4.7 percent.

KWGS News/State of Oklahoma

 

 Oklahoma Democrats are urging Republican leaders to resurrect a Medicaid expansion plan that would infuse hundreds of millions of federal dollars into the state's health care system.

House Democratic leader Rep. Scott Inman said Thursday he was prepared to deliver the votes of all 26 House Democrats in support of $1.50-per-pack cigarette tax to help fund the state's portion of the plan.

Oklahoma-DOC

 

An Alabama committee has passed a bill allowing death row inmates to be executed with nitrogen gas.

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the measure 6-3 Wednesday.

Montrose Republican Sen. Trip Pittman says his bill would make Alabama the second state in country behind Oklahoma to allow a person to be put to death with nitrogen.

Alabama currently gives death row inmates the choice between the electric chair and lethal injection. Pittman says using nitrogen would be more humane. An earlier version of his bill proposed firing squads executions.

  An Oklahoma man has been sentenced to 2 ½ years in federal prison for writing bad checks to buy more than $41,000 worth of postage stamps.

Robert Jordan Chiles pleaded guilty to last year to an embezzlement charge in connection with the scheme, which was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service. The 32-year-old Oklahoma City man was sentenced Tuesday to 30 months in prison.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma teachers would receive their first pay increase in nine years under a bill approved by a Senate committee, despite concerns that lawmakers have yet to figure out how they're going to pay for it.

A Senate budget subcommittee voted Wednesday for the bill that calls for a $1,000 pay raise for teachers next year, $2,000 the following year and $3,000 the third year. The bill now goes to the full Senate Appropriations Committee.

 

A judge has dismissed a lawsuit against three oil and gas companies over Oklahoma's ongoing earthquake swarm.

The Oklahoman reports a lawsuit filed last year on behalf of Sierra Club Oklahoma asked for a reduction of production waste from companies, including Devon Energy Corp., Chesapeake Energy Corp., and New Dominion LLC.

The group wants an independent earthquake monitoring and prediction center to analyze the wastewater volumes and connections to induced seismicity.

TPS

The Tulsa School Board will meet tonight in a rare Wednesday session to discuss district budget cuts. The district is looking at the need to trim its budget by an estimated $12-million.

All options are said to be on the table. That includes closing some schools, trimming the school year calendar and possibly cutting some of the district's athletic programs.

The cuts are brought about because the state's continued revenue shortage. 

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 Two former county commissioners in Oklahoma have been charged with misconduct.

Former Kay County Commissioner Tyson Rowe was charged Friday with a felony count of racketeering, felony counts of embezzlement and misdemeanor counts of willful violation of law regulating official conduct.

Former Kay County Commissioner Dee Schieber was charged with misdemeanor counts of willful violation of law regulating official conduct.

Wagoner County Booking Photo

 

 An Oklahoma woman has pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of three teenagers during an attempted home burglary.

Court records show 21-year-old Elizabeth Rodriguez entered the plea Tuesday in Wagoner County District Court.

Rodriguez is charged in the March 27 deaths of Maxwell Cook, Jacob Redfern and Jakob Woodruff. Prosecutors say Rodriguez drove the three to a home near the Tulsa suburb of Broken Arrow where they broke into the residence and were shot by the 23-year-old son of the homeowner.

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  Authorities in southwest Missouri believe a tornado is responsible for severe damage to several buildings, including a fire station and elementary school.

The small town of Goodman was hit hard by a severe storm Tuesday evening. McDonald County Emergency Management director Gregg Sweeten says it appears a tornado was responsible for damage to the town's fire station and elementary school. No deaths or serious injuries have been reported.

Sweeten says several homes and businesses in Goodman were damaged.

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The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals has upheld the murder conviction and life without parole sentence of a man convicted of killing a Northeastern State University chemistry professor.

The court on Tuesday rejected a dozen appeals from 37-year-old Joshua John Schneider, including lack of evidence, improper evidence, prosecutorial misconduct and ineffective assistance of counsel.

File Photo

 

Oklahoma Treasurer Ken Miller is delivering more bad news about the state's economy.

Miller reported Tuesday that overall collections to the state treasury were down last month by more than $25 million, or nearly 3 percent, compared to last year. The downward trend comes on the heels of two consecutive months in which collections had exceeded those from a year earlier.

Despite the downturn, Miller says most economic indicators continue to show the state's economy is on the mend.

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 A group of small oil and natural gas producers in Oklahoma have formed an alliance and are asking the Legislature to increase the gross production tax back to 7 percent, saying the industry is committed to helping solve the state's budget crisis.

State Forestry Service

  

Oklahoma Forestry Services officials say 2017 is already among the most active on record with wildfires.

State forester George Geissler tells The Oklahoman that this year ranks in Oklahoma's top five wildfire seasons. He says that number could rise if the state sees "a bad summer season."

The forestry services has responded to more than 800 wildfires so far this year that resulted in more than 450,000 acres of burnt woodlands and grasslands.

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 A man charged with cutting off the head of a co-worker and trying to behead another at an Oklahoma food processing plant has been removed from court after an outburst.

Alton Alexander Nolen struggled with deputies during a competency trial Monday in Cleveland County District Court. The deputies subdued him and, after a recess, the judge asked Nolen if he wanted to remain in court. Nolen failed to respond and was taken away.

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Results from a monthly survey of business supply managers show a slight slip in the economic conditions in nine Midwest and Plains states.

 

The Mid-America Business Conditions Index report released Monday says the overall economic index for the region dropped to 60.1 in March from 60.5 in February. It's the first index decline in five months.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says the figures still point to a healthy regional manufacturing economy.

Oklahoma Forest Department

 

Gov. Mary Fallin says the U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved emergency loans for livestock producers in six Oklahoma counties affected by recent wildfires.

The fires in early March burned more than 1,200 square miles in northwest Oklahoma and southwest Kansas and were blamed for one death in each state. In Oklahoma, the fires destroyed hundreds of miles of fences, equipment, structures and killed hundreds of head of cattle.

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 The family of a former Oklahoma reserve deputy convicted of killing an unarmed man in Tulsa is seeking his release from prison because of his age, health and alleged assassination attempts.

Two requests to commute the four-year prison sentence of 75-year-old Robert Bates have been denied by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board.

In letters to the board and a district court judge, Bates' daughter Leslie McCrary says Bates was attacked by other inmates and that he spent 23 hours a day confined in a prison in Lexington.

Tulsa Police

 

 A white Oklahoma police officer charged with manslaughter for fatally shooting an unarmed black man last year says the man's race had nothing to do with her decision to fire her gun.

Tulsa officer Betty Jo Shelby tells "60 Minutes" in an episode set to air later Sunday that she used lethal force because she feared 40-year-old Terence Crutcher was reaching inside his SUV for a gun.

Shelby has pleaded not guilty and goes to trial May 8.

Payne County Sheriff

The Oklahoma State Bureau of investigation says three men have been arrested in connection with the death of a man whose badly burned body was discovered inside a smoldering fire in rural Payne County.

Firefighters found the body of 38-year-old Michael Dwayne Hamilton of Stillwater in a burning brush pile in a field southwest of Stillwater early Wednesday.

KWGS File Photo

A jury in Tulsa County has recommended a life prison sentence for an 18-year-old man who jurors convicted of shooting another man to death.

Jurors on Friday found William Campbell guilty of first-degree murder and a weapons charge in the 2015 shooting death of 33-year-old Craig Wingard.

Campbell was 17 when he was arrested in the July 5, 2015, fatal shooting of Wingard outside a residence. Wingard, who was shot multiple times with a .22-caliber rifle, died at a hospital three days later.

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