Pawnee County Judge Reduces Murderer's Life Sentence To 10 Years - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

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Pawnee County Judge Reduces Murderer's Life Sentence To 10 Years

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Donald Worley, 54, admitted to firing the fatal shot in his brother's back in 2009. He was convicted Donald Worley, 54, admitted to firing the fatal shot in his brother's back in 2009. He was convicted
PAWNEE, Oklahoma -

A Pawnee County judge has suspended all but 10 years of a convicted murderer's life sentence and credited him with time served.

The Cleveland American first reported the outcome of the March 22 hearing, which has left investigators and prosecutors disappointed and confused.

Donald Worley, 54, was convicted of first-degree murder in the 2009 killing of his brother James, sentenced to life in prison and was eligible for parole in 2048.

But that drastically changed last week after Worley petitioned the court to suspend the life sentence, and Pawnee County District Judge Jefferson Sellers agreed.

As a violent offender, Worley is subject to Oklahoma's sentencing laws, which means he still must serve 85 percent of his new 10-year sentence. With credit for time served since December 2009, it's possible he could be released in five years.

Worley admitted to firing the fatal shot to his brother, James, after an altercation on the family's Keystone Lake property. According to Donald Worley, his brother first attacked him with a pipe. When James Worley returned later in the day, Donald Worley said he shot a muzzle loader at his brother's back, which killed him.

The 2010 preliminary trial lasted just one day, and Donald Worley was the only defense witness, The American reported. Witnesses for the prosecution testified there was a long history of violence between the brothers and others.

Donald Worley appealed his conviction, and on Feb. 28, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals upheld the jury's guilty ruling and the life sentence administered at its recommendation, court records show.

The office of district attorney Rex Duncan filed a written objection to the defendant's March 3 application for a suspended sentence, and again raised objections in the March 22 hearing.

Over those objections, Sellers reduced Donald Worley's sentence to 10 years and credited him with time served, court records show.

The lead investigator in the murder case was former Pawnee County deputy Clint Stout, who is now the Cleveland Police Chief.

When asked his reaction about Sellers' decision, Stout told The American, "I don't understand it."

Donald Worley is being housed at the state penitentiary in McAlester, and he is represented by an attorney through the indigent defense system.

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