McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Local News

August 24, 2013

Judge: Local Marcum jury can be fair

McALESTER — Denied.

District Judge Kenneth Adair, of Okmulgee, has denied a court motion by Angela Marcum’s attorney, Shannon McMurray, for a change of venue in an upcoming trial Marcum faces in Pittsburg County on embezzlement charges.

Adair issued his ruling following a day-long hearing held Thursday at the Pittsburg County Courthouse in McAlester.

Citing pre-trial news coverage, McMurray had contended that Marcum — who is the former District 18 Drug Court coordinator —  could not get a fair trial in Pittsburg County.

Senior Oklahoma Assistant Attorney General Charles Rogers disagreed, maintaining that Marcum could indeed have a fair trial in front of a Pittsburg County jury.

During the hearing, the judge also denied several other motions by Marcum’s attorney, including a request to quash, or throw out, a search warrant used to seize records and equipment from District 18 Drug Court.

He also denied a motion to quash counts three through eight in an Oklahoma Multicounty Grand Jury indictment issued against Marcum, which had resulted in the charges filed in the case.

Marcum is charged with multiple counts of embezzlement in connection with money and equipment allegedly missing from the District 18 Drug Court, which serves Pittsburg and McIntosh counties.

Marcum has pleaded innocent to the charges. She is accused of embezzling money paid in the form of fees and other costs paid by District 18 Drug Court participants. Drug court participants have an opportunity to avoid prison or jail time upon successfully completing the program.

In addition to the embezzling charges, Marcum also faces a conspiracy charge in a separate state multicounty grand jury indictment.

As part of her legal arguments regarding the change of venue request, McMurray had submitted approximately 40 signed affidavits from Pittsburg County residents, with the statements in the affidavits maintaining Marcum could not get a fair trial in the county.

During the legal arguments, Rogers had noted that all of the  affidavits contained identical wording, except for the names and addresses of those who signed the papers.

In announcing his ruling to deny the change of venue request, Judge Adair made a similar observation.

“Looking at the affidavits, they’re all the same,” Adair said.

The judge also addressed the issue of pre-trial coverage in the newspaper.

“Pre-trial publicity alone is not enough to move a trial,” the judge said.

The judge noted that some of those who testified Thursday — who had identified themselves as Marcum’s friends, co-workers, or acquaintances — had indicated they were annoyed at the press coverage.

However, the judge said he had seen no evidence presented that the coverage had been inaccurate.

The judge also said that based on the demeanor of some of the witness who testified Thursday, he was not sure that all of those who signed the affidavits had understood what they were signing.

That brought a response from McMurray.

“If I had time, I would have hired an investigator and he would have done it much more in depth,” she said.

Earlier, under questioning by Rogers, a number of the witnesses had stumbled on the witness stand when Rogers had asked them what the phrase “extra judicial statements” meant in the affidavits they had signed.

Some had no answer; some said they didn’t know, while another said he guessed it meant people talking among themselves.

The judge said a Pittsburg County jury will be selected in the case and he indicated he’s ready to spend whatever time it will take to seat a jury, “if it’s three, or four or five days.”

Rogers, with assistance from licensed legal intern Laureen Hammonds, had questioned some of the witnesses who had signed the affidavits — although most of them were not present for the court hearing.

Charles Carey led off the witnesses who testified during the hearing — all of whom had signed affidavits supporting McMurray’s request for the change of venue.

Carey said family members had discussed the case and he had overheard other people talking about it, but he didn’t know their names.

“Once, I was in a restaurant and I heard people talking about it, and even in my church I heard people talking about it,” he said.

Under further questioning by Rogers, Carey said nothing he had read in the newspaper had convinced him that Marcum was guilty.

Another witness, Susanne Carney, also said she believes Marcum is innocent. Asked who brought her the affidavit she had signed, Carney said, “I believe Angie brought me the paper.” She said she and Marcum’s children had played ball together,

Carney criticized the fact that Marcum’s photo has been in the paper accompanying news stories about court action in the case. Carney maintained the coverage would make Pittsburg County residents think Marcum is guilty. Carney also said she keeps to herself and hasn’t talked with anyone but her husband about the case.

Rogers wondered how she could form the opinion that Marcum could not get a fair trial in Pittsburg County if she  hasn’t talked with others about the case.

“You don’t know anybody else in Pittsburg County who has been negatively impacted?” Rogers asked.

“I say no. I don’t talk to anybody,” she said.

Carney returned to the theme of press coverage of the case.

“This has been going on for a million years,” she said.

“It’s stupid to focus so much attention on this woman,” Carney said. “If she’d killed somebody, I still wouldn’t understand it.”

Another witness, Carolyn Calley, said she and Marcum both work at the school in Haywood, where Marcum is a counselor.

Calley said she does not think Marcum is guilty. Rogers then asked her if she’d read anything in the newspaper to make her think Marcum’s guilty.

When she replied in the affirmative, Rogers said, “I thought you told the court you didn’t think she’s guilty.”

Rogers also asked Calley, “Do you believe the people of Pittsburg County are fair or unfair when it comes to criminal justice?”

“Unfair,” Calley replied.

Another witness, Della Cooper, also said she’s a teacher who works with Marcum at Haywood Public Schools. She also criticized the coverage of Marcum in the press.

She said nothing she’s read had convinced her  Marcum is guilty.

Rogers asked Cooper if she thought the people in Pittsburg County were so unfair-minded that Marcum couldn’t get a fair trial.

“It’s possible,” she replied.

Garrett Cooper, the next witness, was asked a few questions. He said he knew Marcum was charged with embezzlement.

Another witness, David Franklin, said he’s a neighbor of Marcum’s and knew about the case “because it’s been all over the paper.” He also said he didn’t think Marcum could get a fair trial in Pittsburg County.

“There are a lot of people who are biased,” he said.

Franklin said that Marcum had given him the affidavit he signed.

Sheri Luker also said she and Marcum both work at Haywood Public Schools. Like others, she said she believes Marcum is innocent. Rogers asked her if articles in the newspaper had made her think Marcum is guilty and Luker replied “no.” She also said she could name no one who had been convinced Marcum was guilty because of the press coverage.

Following the hearing and the judge’s decision, McMurray had no comment on his ruling, but she did say something about Marcum.

“Angie has been a dedicated service member of this community,” McMurray said. She said that Marcum had spent some of her own money for a desk and other materials used for drug court.

A trial date has not yet been set in the case.

Following the hearing, the parties agreed to hear further pre-trial motions in the case at a date to be set during the fourth week in September.

Among the matters yet to be decided before the case goes to trial is a motion by McMurray alleging double jeopardy in the charges filed against her client.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • Crash south of Kiowa McAlester trooper saluted

    Trooper Sean Mass of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol’s Troop D, McAlester, has been recognized as a Trooper of the Year by AAA Oklahoma.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Men's Holy Week Breakfast Washington: Jesus forgives is message at Holy Week Breakfast

    All of us can find salvation and forgiveness of our sins, just like one of the thieves who had been crucified next to Jesus on the cross.
    That’s the message the Rev. Anthony Washington, pastor of the Mount Triumph Baptist Church in McAlester, delivered as featured speaker for the third gathering of this year’s Men’s Holy Week breakfast.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mills: 'Nothing personal' in contesting Layden's candidacy

    Pittsburg County Special District Judge Tim Mills says there’s nothing personal in his contesting the candidacy of Bill Layden, who is also a former special district judge in the county.

    April 16, 2014

  • MCALESTER GENERIC 1 McAlester student accepted to Arts Institute

    Brandi Hongell, of McAlester, has been accepted to the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute at Quartz Mountain, an arts academy held in June in southwestern Oklahoma.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cuttin' it close: Karr files for Ward 4 seat, barely beating deadline

    Three minutes.
    Former Ward 4 City Councilor Robert Karr filed his declaration of candidacy for the vacant Ward 4 seat, filled out the papers, got them notarized and back into the  Pittsburg County Election Board office just three minutes before the deadline to do so elapsed at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

    April 16, 2014

  • Honored McAlester grad - Commander Pete Nilsen to speak at Armed Forces Day luncheon

    McAlester High School alumnus Commander Peter K. Nilsen assistant chief of staff, Navy Missile and Defense Command will be the keynote speaker May 2 at the Armed Forces Day Luncheon at the McAlester Army Ammunitions Plant.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Square logo.jpg April and May named Cleanup McAlester Months

    McAlester Mayor Steve Harrison signed a proclamation Tuesday designating the months of April and May as “Cleanup McAlester Month.”

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • HolyWeek4Wed 1.jpg Gospel: 'The Good News' heard at Holy Week Breakfast

    Steve Glazier presented a pair testimonies of individuals who went on to have a significant impact on others  — a bank robber and a hony-tonk songwriter — when he spoke at the second gathering of this year’s Men’s Holy Week Breakfasts.

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • Dogwood Decorations All ladies welcome to luncheon

    The 42nd annual Women’s Holy Week Salad Luncheon is Thursday. The Thursday before Easter is commonly called Maundy Thursday by most Christians.

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos 2 Stories

  • Still no filings for Ward 4 city council seat

    What if they called an election and nobody came —no candidates, that is.
    That’s the way things were shaping up late Tuesday afternoon for the vacant Ward 4 seat on the McAlester City Council.

    April 15, 2014

Seasonal Content
AP Video
Disbanding Muslim Surveillance Draws Praise Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Pistorius Trial: Adjourned Until May 5 Diaz Gets Physical for New Comedy Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast Freeze Leaves Florida Panhandle With Dead Trees At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Are School Dress Codes Too Strict? Raw: Fatal Ferry Boat Accident Suspicious Bags Found Near Marathon Finish Line Boston Marks the 1st Anniversary of Bombing NYPD Ends Muslim Surveillance Program 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Sex Offenders Arrested in Slayings of CA Women India's Transgenders Celebrate Historic Ruling Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge
NDN Video
Weatherman draws forecast when another technical glitch strikes WGN Jenny McCarthy Engaged to "New Kid" Kate and Will Land in Oz Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Bay Area Teen Gets Prom Date With Help From 'Breaking Bad' Star Behind The Tanlines Jersey Strong Part 1 WATCH: Women Fight To Marry Prince Harry! O’Reilly Launches Preemptive Strike Against CBS Pixar Unveils Easter Eggs From its Biggest Movies Baby Sloths Squeak for Their Cuddle Partners in Adorable Video Miley Cyrus Hospitalized After Severe Reaction To Medicine Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Toddler climbs into vending machine 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Much-Anticipated 'Gone Girl' Trailer Finally Debuts! (VIDEO) Dog and Toddler Wear Matching Outfits in Adorable Photo Series VP Biden: "World witnesses ordinary citizens doing extraordinary things" It's Official! Michael Strahan Joins "GMA" Blood Moon Time-lapse Actress Lake Bell Goes Topless
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.