Prosecutors say 53-year old Norman Stephens ran over and killed a man walking with his family on the side of the Keystone Expressway last November and kept driving.
Stephens entered a plea in court Monday. As News on 6 reporter Heather Lewin found out, it wasn't what the victim's family expected.
Norman Stephens left the courtroom surrounded by family, after telling the judge he is not guilty of the crime that cost Daniel Newman his life. A few feet away, Newman's family walked off in shock. Danielâ€™s mother Peggy Williams: â€œI just don't see how he can keep from having feelings like that to know that he did something and to say that he didn't do it. All I want him to do is admit he did it and have remorse for it."
It happened last November, the night before Thanksgiving. The family was walking along the Keystone Expressway after their car ran out of gas. Daniel Newman held his 2-year old daughter in his arms, his wife and other children walked behind.
Tulsa Police say Stephens' truck left the highway and went up on the grass, hitting Newman and his daughter and kept going. Danielâ€™s sister Carrie Jackson: "You know if it was an accident, that's fine, completely understandable. If the power steering went out in the truck or whatever, fine, we forgive you, but why couldn't he have stopped?"
Stephens was arrested about a half-mile away. His attorney, James Fransein says it was a tragic accident, that Stephens didn't see any people and thought he'd only struck a freeway sign. "He says I must have done it, everybody says it, but I swear to God I didn't know I hit anybody." Because of blood and other evidence on the truck, Fransein isn't disputing what happened, but he says the hit and run wasn't intentional.
Carrie Jackson: â€œI know if I did what he did I would not be able to live with myself, I would be sorry, I would be contacting the family I would be doing something."
Stephens' attorney says the truck may have had a power steering problem. Tulsa Police didn't suspect alcohol or drugs the night of the hit and run, but toxicology tests were performed. Prosecutors say they can't comment on the results.
Stephens is charged with two felony counts, leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in death and in personal injury for the little girl, who did recover. He also faces a charge of negligent homicide.
The trial is set for September.