Local & Regional

University of Central Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Joseph Watt plans to retire at the end of the year after 25 years on the state's highest court.

The 70-year-old Watt announced his retirement, effective on Dec. 31, in a letter to Gov. Mary Fallin on Monday.

Former Gov. David Walters appointed Watt to the Supreme Court on May 17, 1992, and he has served two terms as chief justice, from 2003 until 2007.

A native of Altus, Watt was appointed to a special district judge's seat in Jackson County in 1985 and was elected associate district judge in 1986.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The University of Oklahoma Board of Regents has begun the search for the university's next president.

The board met Sunday in Oklahoma City, where they accepted President David Boren's resignation. Boren announced last month that he'll step down once his successor is named. He's been the university's president for 23 years.

Oklahoma Department of Corrections

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — An Oklahoma jury has recommended multiple life sentences on assault and battery charges for a man who beheaded a co-worker in 2014, though he still faces the death penalty for his murder conviction.

Alton Nolen was convicted Friday for killing one co-worker and trying to kill another at a food processing plant in Moore, a suburb of Oklahoma City.

KWTV reports jurors agreed Monday that Nolen should serve three life sentences plus 130 years in prison on charges stemming from his attack on the co-worker who survived.

Tulsa County Booking Photo

An Oklahoma judge Monday ruled that a white former police officer will face a fourth murder trial in the 2014 killing of his daughter's black boyfriend.

Tulsa County District Judge Sharon Holmes overruled motions filed by attorneys for former Tulsa officer Shannon Kepler to dismiss the case.

Defense attorneys argued to have the case thrown out of court on several grounds in the months since Kepler's third mistrial was declared.


Oil and gas companies are feeling the pinch.

Industry experts in Oklahoma believe natural gas prices between $2.50 and $3.50 and oil prices between $45 and $55 dollars are here to stay for a decade or more.

"You have to look at the full-cycle economics and make it worth within this price range. There is no thinking about prices going higher in the future," said Oklahoma Energy Resources Board member Ronnie Irani. "If they do, great. That's icing on the cake, but you cannot afford to work in that environment."

Economic growth continued in September for a 10th straight month in a nine-state region that includes Oklahoma.

The Mid-America Business Conditions Index rose to 58.2 last month, up from 57.5 in August and 56.1 in July.

"You see it's been trending upward for about 10 months into 12 months. We're seeing it growing. That's a real good number, and I expect that to continue, as manufacturing in the region is doing well," said Creighton University economist Ernie Goss.

When it comes to local economic growth, Tulsa doesn’t fare well in a new analysis.

Financial website WalletHub's rankings of 515 U.S. cities’ economic growth consider data on things like population, job and income growth, unemployment rates, even building permit activity.

"And, unfortunately, especially when it comes to large cities, Tulsa finds itself near the bottom of these rankings," said WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation took "unprecedented measures" to make its new eight-year construction plan work.

Since the 2010–2017 plan was approved, nearly $840 million has been taken from ODOT to balance state budgets.

"So, we have about 40 projects that are just sliding out of the eight-year plan, one that was in this plan" said ODOT Director and State Transportation Secretary Mike Patterson. "And that's the new routing of U.S. 70 around Madill. A project that we've all been working on at some level for many years, but we just can't keep it in there."

State officials want to put friends and loved ones of prescription drug addicts on the front lines of the battle against opioid deaths.

The key is more access to the overdose reversal drug Naloxone, which is an increasingly common tool among first responders.

There are now 19 community hubs throughout Oklahoma that offer free Naloxone kits.

Health care for Oklahoma’s poorest children will take a $49 million dollar hit because of congressional inaction.

Federal lawmakers did not reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, by a Saturday deadline. Cate Jeffries with the Oklahoma Health Care Authority said they can prolong the program if they essentially start buying on credit.

"We can continue to fund the CHIP program through state fiscal year 2018, which ends June 30, by pushing out some of our provider claim runs into the next fiscal year," Jeffries said.

Carol Durkee

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Attacks this summer on counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, and an empty Air Force recruiting station in Oklahoma had the hallmarks of terrorist attacks but weren't prosecuted as such.

Even though many in law enforcement referred to them as acts of domestic terrorism, there is a simple reason such charges weren't brought: They don't exist.

A man was shot and killed in front of his family Sunday afternoon as he confronted an armed robber during a home invasion.

Tulsa Police say the home in the 9000 block of East 67th Street was 16-year-old Deonte Green's second stop during a Sunday crime spree.

Police say Green approached the man's wife and two daughters as they left the house around 12:30 p.m., pointing a gun at them and forcing them back inside. Once inside, the family's 44-year-old father confronted Green. During a struggle, Green shot him, and the man collapsed a short time later inside the house.

Monday's top stories:

  • Oklahoma loses $49 million for poor children's health care after Congress failed to reauthorize funding for it this weekend.
  • A back-and-forth over the gross production tax may be a sticking point in special session budget negotiations.
  • Oklahoma oil and gas industry experts believe modest prices — $2.50 to $3.50 for natural gas and $45 to $55 for oil — are here to stay for a decade or more.

file photo

Police are noticing the effects of Oklahoma’s addiction to prescription painkillers.

Many people addicted to the pills eventually turn to heroin. Tulsa Police Capt. Mark Wollmershauser said a full-blown painkiller addiction can mean as many as 100 hydrocodone a day at $3 apiece or 10 oxycontin at $30, so it's common for addicts to have a $300 a day habit.

"Or, I can score my 1 gram of heroin a day, be pretty much OK and only pay $100. So, I've cut my cost in a third," Wollmershauser told the Oklahoma Commission on Opioid Abuse.

Erik Drost

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Russell Westbrook is staying with the Thunder.

The superstar point guard and reigning NBA MVP has signed a contract extension to remain in Oklahoma City, the team announced Friday. ESPN first reported the agreement and said it would be for five years and worth $205 million.

Westbrook made an Instagram post Friday afternoon, a photo of him yelling at Chesapeake Energy Arena with his arms raised in the air. His words of choice to go with the photo are the words he lives by and the name of his charitable foundation: "WHY NOT??"

File Photo

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma City police officer has been put on leave after firing a bullet that missed a woman authorities described as suicidal.

Sgt. Gary Knight says in statement officers called Wednesday to an apartment complex found the woman in a car, threatening to kill herself. The woman was holding a gun when she got out of the car.

Officer Derik Rawson fired a shot at her and missed. A second officer fired a beanbag shotgun twice, which knocked the woman to the ground.

Rawson was put on leave, per protocol. The other officer was not identified.

Oklahoma Department of Corrections

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — An Oklahoma man accused of beheading a co-worker was convicted of first-degree murder Friday for the 2014 attack that one witness said was "something that people shouldn't have to see."

Jurors deliberated for about two hours before finding 33-year-old Alton Nolen guilty in the death of 54-year-old Coleen Hufford. Jurors also convicted Nolen of assault and battery with a deadly weapon for attempting to behead a second co-worker at the Vaughan Foods plant in Moore, a suburb of Oklahoma City.

Prosecutors have said they would seek the death penalty.

Tulsa County Sheriff

A Tulsa County detention officer has surrendered to authorities after a warrant was issued for her arrest on a charge of sexual battery.

The Tulsa County sheriff's office said in a release late Friday that Ashley Michelle Smith had turned herself in at the county jail. A warrant for her arrest was signed by a judge earlier Friday.

Authorities say a 16-year-old student has died after falling from the top of a stadium at the end of a high school football game in Oklahoma.

Officer James Koch of the Broken Arrow Police Department said via email Saturday that the fall happened about 10 p.m. Friday at the Broken Arrow High School stadium as a game with a rival team was ending. Koch says the student was taken by ambulance to a hospital with undetermined injuries.

Broken Arrow Public Schools identified the student as Jaymeson West, a junior who played saxophone in the school band.


EMSA could end up suing its liability insurance company to recoup some of the $2.4 million in legal fees the agency expects to incur fighting a federal anti-kickback lawsuit.

The emergency medical care provider has a $1 million policy with Atlanta-based RSUI Indemnity. It covers EMSA directors and officers for losses brought through legal actions.

While EMSA has filed a claim with RSUI, the insurer has not authorized it.

File photo

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Jurors started deliberations Friday in the trial of a man charged with beheading a co-worker and trying to kill another at an Oklahoma food processing plant.

Prosecutors said during closing arguments that Alton Nolen, 33, knew right from wrong when he killed Coleen Hufford, 54, in September 2014 at Vaughan Foods in Moore. The company had suspended Nolen for racial remarks before the attack.

File photo

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma will be receiving a funding boost of $16.5 million in federal funds to open and expand charter schools across the state.

The Oklahoman reports the Oklahoma Public School Resource Center will be receiving the grant from the U.S. Department of Education over the next five years.

The grant will be used to create more charter schools in the state that focus on serving educationally disadvantaged students.

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVoss says the grant will create more education options for students.

The Environmental Protection Agency says four flights on noncommercial aircraft taken by Administrator Scott Pruitt were preapproved by ethics lawyers.

Documents show Pruitt and his staff chartered a private plane for an Aug. 4 trip from Denver to Durango, Colorado, to visit the Gold King Mine, site of a spill last year. The administrator also took three flights on government-owned planes to New York, North Dakota and a roundtrip between airports in Pruitt's native Oklahoma.

Tulsa County Booking Photo

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A hearing for a white former police officer who faces a fourth murder trial in Oklahoma in the 2014 fatal shooting of his daughter's black boyfriend has been postponed.

Attorneys say the hearing on former Tulsa officer Shannon Kepler's request to dismiss the case won't take place Friday as scheduled because the judge is ill.

Kepler's attorneys are trying to have the case dismissed on several grounds in the months since a mistrial was declared in his third trial.

OSU Center for Health Sciences

Oklahoma State University Health Sciences Center in Tulsa opens a new simulation teaching facility containing the largest program of its’ kind in the state. The Tandy Simulation Center uses life-like computer programmed ‘manikins’ that can imitate almost any medical emergency.                                   

The four-story, 84-thousand square foot Tandy Building contains teaching exam rooms, a medicine lab, conference rooms, and lecture halls.

The grand opening and dedication were held today.

Tulsa County Booking Photo

A white former police officer facing a fourth murder trial in Oklahoma in the 2014 fatal shooting of his daughter's black boyfriend is asking a judge to dismiss the case.

Attorneys for former Tulsa officer Shannon Kepler are expected in court Friday morning ahead of Kepler's Oct. 9 trial — his fourth in less than a year.

His attorneys have sought to have the case dismissed on several grounds since a mistrial was declared in Kepler's third trial.

Friday's top stories:

  • Despite complaints it doesn't fall under the purview of special session, a state House committee passes a bill requiring intensive checks of Oklahoma's Medicaid rolls every three months.
  • Oklahoma U.S. Sen. James Lankford says Russia is part of why NFL players' protests against racial injustice have become a hot-button issue.
  • Health officials say if state lawmakers don't pass a cigarette tax increase, already suffering nursing homes will be even worse off.

Tulsa County Sheriff

Tulsa police have arrested a man in connection with a string of downtown burglaries.

Pedro Canteras, 24, was booked into the Tulsa County Jail on three counts of third-degree burglary Thursday afternoon. Online jail records indicate Canteras is homeless.

The burglaries happened over several hours in and around the Brady Arts District, starting late Wednesday night and ending early Thursday morning.

File Photo

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A federal fraud and bribery scandal shaking college basketball has led to a key question of what will happen to recruits who received money linked to attending certain schools.

It could mean the permanent loss of college eligibility for some players for violating a core NCAA rule prohibiting improper benefits. But there's also the chance that some ineligible players could go through the NCAA's reinstatement process and eventually play after sitting out some games.

Oklahoma State University

Oklahoma State has fired Lamont Evans for cause after the top assistant to new coach Mike Boynton was ensnared in the federal investigation of basketball recruiting at seven universities.

The school announced that Evans was terminated in a one-sentence statement Thursday.

Evans is accused of accepting $2,000 a month in bribes to funnel athletes to certain agents, including "one and done" players that are talented enough to jump to the NBA after one season.