McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Police/Courts

March 27, 2013

Execution date requested for OSP death row inmate

McALESTER — An execution date has been requested for an Oklahoma State Penitentiary death row inmate.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt filed a request Monday (March 25) with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to set an execution date for death row inmate James Lewis DeRosa after the U.S. Supreme Court denied the 36-year-old inmate’s final appeal.

In October of 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 of 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 and also known as John E. Castleberry, agreed to help with the robbery. Castleberry’s 18-year-old friend, Scotty White, now 30, 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.

“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.

The last death row inmate to be executed in Oklahoma was Steven Ray Thacker, who was put to death March 12 via lethal injection. Thacker received his death sentence after going on a 10-day killing spree over the Christmas and New Years holidays between December 1999 and January 2000. Thacker killed three people in three states — Oklahoma, Missouri and Tennessee.

Pruitt requested DeRosa’s execution date be set 60 days after March 25, 2012.

Contact Rachel Petersen at rpetersen@mcalesternews.com.

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