Jury Hears Opening Arguments In Tulsa Police Corruption Trial
Lori Fullbright, News On 6
TULSA, Oklahoma -- The corruption trial for two Tulsa police officers began Monday after prosecutors withdrew their last-minute motion for a delay.
Jury selection in the trial for Jeff Henderson and Bill Yelton then began Monday morning at the federal courthouse in Tulsa.
The case is being heard by Judge Bruce Black of New Mexico. It's being prosecuted by Jane Duke, the U.S. Attorney for eastern Arkansas.
After three hours of questioning, a jury was seated and opening arguments began.
Prosecutors began by telling the jury this is not a case against all Tulsa police officers, just these two and said they want only one thing, the truth.
The attorney for Jeff Henderson started his opening statement with a Bible verse. He says no matter how persuasive the prosecutor might sound, there is a much different side to this case and the officers will testify on their own behalf.
The prosecution began by dropping four perjury counts against Officer Jeff Henderson, so he now faces 54 charges. Officer Bill Yelton, faces eight.
Prosecutors say the men lied in search warrants and on the stand in order to get drug convictions. Some of those people were sent to prison and have since been set free.
However, Henderson's attorney Stephen Jones told the jury most of those people were convicted felons before Henderson and Yelton ever met them.
He told the jury they were going to take a journey into the hell that is north Tulsa's drug trade and these two officers' efforts to abolish it.
Prosecutors say the system that allowed the officers to use confidential informants to do drug deals and keep those names secret for everyone, even judges and attorneys, encouraged corruption.
Their attorneys say that system is critical to protect confidential informants who work with police and in fact, five had been killed in the past.
They say it's the same system used by police officers everywhere and follows the law and the constitution. They say this is a case of confidential informants, now turning against the very officers they used to help.
The judge told the jurors Monday that this trial could last three or four weeks.