Judge Denies Kevin Sweat's Appeal To Withdraw Guilty Plea In Weleetka Murders


Friday, October 31st 2014, 12:49 pm



Kevin Sweat, in his first appeal since being sentenced to three life terms, has been denied in his request to withdraw his guilty plea.

Sweat is the man prosecutors said killed two young girls near Weleetka six years ago -- 11-year-old Skyla Whitaker and 13-year-old Taylor Paschal-Placker. He wasn't arrested until after he went on to kill his fiancée Ashley Taylor three years later.

He entered a blind plea to three counts of first-degree murder in July. He was sentenced last week.

Sweat took the stand on Friday with six deputies guarding him in the courtroom. One deputy had a Taser in hand. He entered court in shackles, with one arm handcuffed to a belt and a bulletproof vest, but his vest was removed before he entered court.

Sweat told the court, "I didn't kill not one of them," but said he felt like he didn't have a choice in making the plea. Sweat claims his attorneys would call witnesses he wanted and ignored evidence he suggested.

10/24/2014 Related Story: Kevin Sweat Attacks Lawyer With Razor Before Being Sentenced To 3 Life Terms

His sentencing hearing last week was delayed when Sweat attacked his lawyer with the blade from a shaving razor outside the courtroom, according to Okfuskee County District Attorney Max Cook.

Sweat also submitted a handwritten appeal, claiming he wanted to talk with the FBI about possible crimes committed by the OSBI and to withdraw his guilty pleas. When the hearing resumed, the judge handed down three life sentences without the possibility of parole.

In the appeal on Friday, Sweat testified he wanted to plead no contest, but that his attorneys wouldn't agree to it.

Sweat's guilty plea prevented a trial that also eliminated a possible death sentence. Sweat said Friday that he understood withdrawing the plea would make it possible for him to get a death sentence.

The court took a 10-minute break before cross-examination resumed about noon.

Under cross examination, Sweat admitted filling out the forms changing to a blind plea and testifying he was satisfied with his representation before sentencing. An assistant district said in court that one of Sweat's claims was that OSBI dressed up an actor to look like him in videotaped interviews where he admits killing his victims.

Prosecutors said in cross examination that Sweat was trying to imply the two youngest victims were sexually assaulted before their murder, in an attempt to torture their families. Prosecutors said despite extensive forensic testing, there was never any evidence supporting sexual contact.

Sweat testified his attorneys told him, "You're going to be convicted no matter what."

The judge asked Sweat if he could read and write, and if he recognized his own writing agreeing to the guilty plea in July. Sweat said he did. The judge asked Sweat if he had lied on the stand. Sweat replied, "No, not today." The judge asked if anyone made him plead guilty and Sweat replied he would have to say no.

"This court has done everything in its power to protect every constitutional right," the judge said. Then he denied Sweat's appeal to withdraw and ordered his transfer to the Department of Corrections to begin serving his time.

7/31/2014 Related Story: Kevin Sweat Pleads Guilty To Murders Of Weleetka Girls, Fiancee

"There's a lot to be said about having to spend the rest of your life in jail and having to watch your back the rest of your life," Mike Taylor, a father of one of the victims said.

 It took more than three years of legal work to get to this point with Sweat, but years longer for the families of his victims because of the time between the murders and his arrest.

The families are hopeful that this chapter is over.

"It's a little bit easier to know he's going to be gone and we won't have to look at him again," Patricia Taylor, a mother of one of the victims said.

The district attorney said Sweat is likely to make new appeals, but this finalizes his conviction and sentencing for now.

And for the families' sake, we hope this is it," Cook said.



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