McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Local News

June 17, 2013

Killer set to die Tuesday

McALESTER — A convicted killer, and death row inmate at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, is set to be executed via lethal injection Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the prison’s death chamber. James Lewis DeRosa, 36, was convicted Oct. 19, 2001, of two counts of first-degree murder and was subsequently sentenced to death.

The Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty plans to host a silent vigil at 5:15 p.m. on Tuesday in front of the Governor’s Mansion in Oklahoma City.

“The public is invited to join the members of OK-CADP as they stand in front of the Governor's mansion, 820 NE 23 St., on Tuesday, June 18, at 5:15 p.m. during the ‘Don't Kill for Me’ protest demonstration, which will transition into a silent vigil at the appointed hour of 6 p.m. until death is pronounced,” organizers of the vigil said.

Earlier this month, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-2 against granting DeRosa clemency earlier this month.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt filed a request March 25 with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to set DeRosa’s execution date after the U.S. Supreme Court denied the inmate’s final appeal.

In October 2000, Curtis Plummer, 73, and Gloria Plummer, 70, both of Poteau, were found dead in their home with multiple stab wounds and with their throats cut. About one year later, in October 2001, DeRosa was found guilty by a jury of his peers for the LeFlore County first-degree murders of the Plummers. He was subsequently sentenced to death.

According to Pruitt, DeRosa was briefly employed by the Plummers and told several friends on multiple occasions he thought the elderly couple would be an easy target to rob. DeRosa’s 21-year-old friend, Eric Castleberry, now 33 4/24/13  (12/4/79), and also known as John E. Castleberry, agreed to help with the robbery. Castleberry’s 18-year-old friend, Scotty White, now 30  4/24/13 (8/1/82), agreed to drive.

Pruitt said DeRosa and Castleberry were welcomed into the Plummer’s home, which at the time was equipped with a security system. Once in the home, Pruitt said, DeRosa and Castleberry brandished knives and, while the couple begged and struggled for their lives, DeRosa stabbed the Plummers multiple times and slit their throats, the AG’s office reported.

“DeRosa and Castleberry left the scene with $73 and the couple’s pickup truck,” Pruitt said. “The truck was ditched in a nearby lake.”

In exchange for a life sentence without the possibility of parole, Castleberry testified at DeRosa’s trial. Castleberry is serving his two life sentences at OSP in McAlester.

White was charged with accessory to first-degree murder after the fact and received two 25-year sentences, to be served concurrently, and the last seven years to be served as probation. He is serving time at the Lawton Correctional Facility and has since been convicted of escaping from the Department of Corrections. He is scheduled to be released on Nov. 10, 2026, and has a parole hearing set in August of 2015.

DeRosa was received into the Oklahoma Department of Corrections on Dec. 10, 2001. He has been housed in Oklahoma’s death row at OSP in McAlester.

Contact Rachel Petersen at rpetersen@mcalesternews.com.

For more on this story, see the print or electronic editions of the McAlester News-Capital. Click here for print edition home delivery or click here to see the Smart Edition for your computer, tablet, e-reader or smart phone.

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