A jury found a Tulsa man not guilty of child abuse last Wednesday and now, he wants to clear his name. Terry Landrum, Sr. was looking at more than 20 years in prison if convicted.
The Tulsa County District Attorney's office offered him six in prison and four on probation, but he said, "No way," because he believed so strongly he did nothing wrong when he slapped his 13-year-old son on the side of the head for stealing, then lying about it.
Terry Landrum, Sr. said his teenage son had gotten into trouble for stealing before, so when he was accused last February of taking an iPod, Terry was determined to get a straight answer.
"I said 'T.J., where's that iPod.' He said, 'I don't know, Daddy, they're lying on me,' and I said 'T.J., we've been here before, this is nothing new, just tell me so I can get it back,'" Landrum explained. "He said, 'They're lying on me Daddy, they're lying, they're lying.'"
And on it went. Terry said he got upset, smacked his son upside the head and demanded to know where the missing iPod was. He said his son admitted he took it and claimed it was in his locker at school.
Terry said he grabbed his son by the collar, put him in the truck and went to the school, but the locker was empty. They went back home, and he told his son he'd better turn it over.
He said that's when his son ran off down the street.
Terry called police to report a runaway, but his son also called police, claiming abuse.
Terry Landrum, Sr.: "That I walked up to him and said, 'Why'd you do it?' punched him in the face, elbowed him to the ground, jumped on top of him, put my knees on his arms and punched him in the face and choked him..."
Lori Fullbright, reporter: "But, in reality, all you did was slap him on the head and grab his shirt?"
Terry Landrum, Sr.: "Right, that's all I did."
Terry was arrested and charged with child abuse. With two previous felonies in his past, it didn't look good. Even his attorney encouraged him to take the deal, but Terry refused.
"I tried so hard to stay out of trouble," he said. "I decided, 'I'm never going back to jail,' and look what I'm dealing with, trying to get my son to be a man. 'You don't have to steal. I'm showing you an example, get up and work. You can have anything you want if you go work for it.'"
Terry's son took the stand. So did Terry. Then it was time for the jury's verdict.
He said he's never been so scared in his life.
"It's almost like your heart stops. I'm hoping for the best; expecting the worst. When they said 'not guilty,' the judge said Mr, Landrum, you can leave, but I couldn't leave," he said.
"I had to sit there for a minute and the smiles on the jurors' faces told me, they knew what I was going through."
Terry lost a good job after his arrest and, of course, now has bond and attorney's fees to pay. He's hoping he can find work now that he's been cleared.
We asked him about repairing his relationship with his son. He said, as a human being, he feels betrayed, hurt and angry, but as a father, he believes he has a duty and responsibility to always be there for his children.