Local man accepts plea deal under Marsy's Law

DERRICK JAMES | Staff photo

Allen Gragg is placed into a Pittsburg County Sheriff’s vehicle after being remanded into custodyafter he pleaded guilty to two sex crimes Friday. 

A McAlester man charged with sexual abuse of a child and incest entered a guilty plea Friday in front of his accuser in what attorneys called a Marsy's Law plea.

Allen Wayne Gragg, 61, was sentenced to one-year in the custody of the Pittsburg County Jail and a 16-year suspended sentence for child sexual abuse-child under 12 and one year in the jail with 10 years suspended for incest, with the sentences to be served concurrently, or at the same time. Gragg was also ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and other court costs along with a mandatory lifetime registration as a sex offender.

Questions were raised by both prosecutors and Gragg’s lawyers on whether the 85% rule, which requires defendants to serve at least 85% of their sentence before being eligible for parole consideration, applied to county jail sentences.

Pittsburg County Associate District Judge Tim Mills said that decision was up to Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris.

Morris, who was not present for the sentencing, later said "I agree with that law 100 percent. The seriousness of the crime — I think the punishment is too little anyway, so I would say day-for-day, honestly." 

The plea was accepted under Marsy’s Law, which gives crime victims the right to be heard in any proceeding involving release, plea, sentencing, disposition, parole, and any proceeding during which a right of the victim is implicated.

Gragg’s attorney, Blake Lynch, said he spoke with the victim Friday morning, and she approved of the plea.

“This morning when we appeared at docket, the state indicated they could not make contact with the victim and the victim had not approved or given them authorization on a plea offer,” Lynch said.

According to Lynch, the only offer received from prosecutors was a 20-year sentence in the custody of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections and he said that the prosecution told him that is what the victim wanted.

“The victim said 'no that’s not what I wanted, I wanted in fact for him to have some sort of jail time and some probation and that’s what I told the state weeks ago when I talked to them,'” Lynch said.

Under Marsy’s Law, the victim has the right to deny an interview from the defense, which, according to Lynch, did not occur. A recording of the phone call between Lynch and the victim was not played in the courtroom, but was entered as evidence in the case.

Lynch said the phone call was recorded to prove to Mills that the victim requested some type of jail time and probation.

The district attorney’s office disputes Lynch’s claim of prosecutors not being in contact with the victim and said the office had met with the victim several times.

District 18 Assistant District Attorney Michon Hasting Hughes said she spoke with the victim last week and was told by the victim “that she was going to think about it” after being informed of an offer from the defense on Gragg’s willingness to plea to a straight suspended sentence.

The prosecutor said she had not heard back from the victim since that conversation and she relayed that information to the defense Friday morning. That is when the defense contacted the victim and received confirmation on the plea, according to statements made in court.

Before remanding Gregg into custody, Mills asked the victim if the plea made was with her approval, and she said "yes."

Contact Derrick James at djames@mcalesternews.com

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