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It’s time for occupiers to tighten up their message

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A few years ago Neal Sweeney, a well-loved and prominent business man and former University of Tulsa college football star, was shot in the head, while working at his desk in his office. The accused is Terrico Bethel. It is alleged that Bethel was hired to kill Sweeney by another business man because of a dispute over a breech of contract and a large sum of money owing to Sweeney.

For three years Bethel has been detained at the Tulsa County Jail on charges of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Bethel has yet to be brought to trial. Part of the reason is that he keeps delaying the proceedings against him by firing his lawyers. Presumably the court has continued the matter for so long to insure the accused’s rights to a fair trial and to be represented by counsel. In any event, there are no bigger fans of swift justice than district attorneys.

Occupiers have taken their protest to the county jail claiming that Bethel’s due process right to a speedy trial has been violated. “Occupy Tulsa is not taking sides,” insists an Occupy Tulsa participant. “We are not saying whether he is guilty or not … we’re saying, ‘Give him due process.’ ”

The primary criticism leveled at the occupy movement is the lack of cohesion of a discernible message. The occupation of the county jail decrying the constitutional rights of a known thug and the likely killer of Sweeney boldly underlines the message problem the occupiers should be struggling with.

Occupiers need to know what their message is and stay on it. The issue for Occupiers is corporate greed and the corruption and damage it has wrought; not the complexities of criminal procedure in an Oklahoma district court.

They stepped in it on this one. They will get little love for protesting the detention of the guy who was arrested for the murder-for-hire of Sweeney.

Surely there is someone among the occupy movement who knows something about marketing and public relations.

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Posted by on December 11, 2011. Filed under COMMENTARY/OPINION. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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5 Responses to It’s time for occupiers to tighten up their message

  1. Uzza Reply

    December 12, 2011 at 1:51 am

    Has the Occupy movement voted and appointed you the spokesman to proclaim what their issue is? I’ve missed that.

    What you’ve missed is that the law requires a speedy trial, and the system hasn’t held one after THREE YEARS.

    What part of “due process” do you not understand? Regardless of how guilty you think he is, or who’s lying about the delays, he’s innocent until there’s a trial. That applies to everyone, and speedy =/= 3 years.

  2. Bill Formby Reply

    December 12, 2011 at 2:13 am

    Colin, this is typical of many people who do not understand the working of the justice system. As one who works on the defense side 98% of the time I get frustrated at people who make assumptions without facts about the defendant. To me this is the same thing. It matters not who is corrupting the process, be it the defendant or the state, those who are not privy to the facts need to insist only that the system work as designed.

    @UZZA Before judging either side you need to know who is delaying the process. Defendants and prosecutors alike abuse the system. The concept of speedy trial is open to interpretation depending on the jurisdiction. I work in a rural area where the normal time for a capital case to get to trial is three years. Just get your facts straight before you criticize.

  3. Uzza Reply

    December 12, 2011 at 9:44 am

    The facts you reiterate are: at any time an innocent person can be accused of a crime, arrested, thrown in prison, held for THREE YEARS, before being let go. You say this is normal, and see nothing wrong with it? What’s wrong with you?

    • The Lawyer Reply

      December 12, 2011 at 2:32 pm

      Look at the link to the docket sheet in the post. The delay is as much to fault of the defendant as anyone else. The right to a speedy trial is being weighed against the right to a fair trial, both issues under the umbrella of due process. It’s much more complicated than being outraged that 3 years is too long. Trial is set for February. If the prosecution were abusing the process by delaying the matter, the defense has the remedy to move to dismiss or appeal. That has not happened.

  4. Givin AyClue Reply

    December 12, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Uzza… Have you not the experience and knowledge to know that people accused of MURDER do NOT want a speedy trial? Why? Because there is a good chance they will be put to death. Get it? Mr. Bethel has already fired three of his lawyers. Mr. Bethel is the one who is purposefully delaying trial by constantly firing his lawyers. Mr. Bethel does NOT want a speedy trial. Uzza, if someone is arrested for murder for hire charges, and the trial is constantly delayed, wouldn’t it be your first thought the accused murderer would be delaying the trial? Then you would investigate and in fact see the accused firing every lawyer assigned to him so far to delay trial. Oh, and Mr. Bethel was already in jail when arrested, on I believe at least a three year sentence for attacking a police officer, so he would have been in jail now anyway. Again, another reason for him delaying trial, he was still serving sentance for another crime as this trial was going on, so no loss to him.

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