DA Refiles Charges Against Murder Suspect

Thursday, June 28th 2007, 9:30 pm
By: News On 6

There are new developments in a Tulsa murder investigation. On Thursday, the Tulsa County District Attorney refilled a murder charge against Rico Starks. The District Attorney dropped the charge on Wednesday because a key witness failed to testify. Starks was facing murder and shooting with intent to kill charges in separate cases, but witnesses in both failed to testify. News On 6 anchor Latoya Silmon reports local police say witness intimidation happens all the time, but with the community's help they hope to put a stop to it.

Tulsa Police say what started out as a street fight near 5600 N. Garrison Court ended with shots fired and one man dead in August 2006. They think Rico Starks was the trigger man, but proving it just got more difficult.

"Witnesses didn't show for testimony, so instead of losing it forever you go ahead and drop the charges so you can come back and fight another day," said Tulsa Police Corporal Gene Watkins.

But officers say they're not only battling crime, they're trying to tackle the fear that comes with it.

“A lot of time the retaliation issue is coming from gang related activities, and gang members who are threatening our community,” said Carol Bush with the Citizens Crime Commission. “The gangs, there only about 4,000 or 5,000 gang members in a city this size, they're doing a lot of damage because they've done their marketing real well. You know you snitch I'm going to kill you.”

Carol Bush with the Citizens Crime Commission says anonymous tip lines like Crimestoppers sometimes isn't enough to curb fear.

“It's totally anonymous, it’s so anonymous it's answered by an answering service in Canada,” said Bush.

The group hopes increased rewards, and the newly created confidential reliable citizens program will help. Right now it has 65 participants, they get extensive training and code names that allow them to bypass 911 and talk directly to police officers.

Bush says more people need to stand up to stomp out crime.

“The only way we're going to have a safer community is if everybody works together,” she said.

Rico Starks was also facing a shooting with intent to kill charge until the witness in that case also failed to testify. The District Attorney’s Office says it doesn't expect to refile that charge.

Watch the video: Murder Charges Refiled