Tulsa bar owner's family fails to sway prosecutor

Monday, August 2nd 2004, 11:01 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- The family of a Tulsa bar owner slain by a homeless man who claimed self defense failed Monday to change the prosecutor's mind on whether to file charges.

Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris has not closed the investigation into Shawn Howard's death but indicated that prosecution of Howard's killer was unlikely, attorney Richard Hix said.

Hix, who represents Howard's family and witness Josh Martin, met with Harris for more than an hour Monday in an attempt to get the district attorney to reverse his late June decision not to file charges.

"If someone overheard the conversation, they would very fairly come to the conclusion that the decision has been made not to prosecute," Hix said in a phone interview.

Harris' office did not immediately comment.

Howard, 35, the owner of Deadtown Tavern, died June 25 after an altercation with transient Terry Badgewell. Howard was beaten to death with a pipe. Martin, 30 and the bar's manager, was injured.

After an investigation, Harris determined that Badgewell, 38, had acted in self defense after Howard and Martin struck him in the face with brass knuckles.

The fight began after Howard and Martin saw Badgewell preparing to sleep near the downtown bar and told him to leave, authorities say.

But Hix maintains that Badgewell pursued Howard as Howard stumbled away in a daze from the fight. He says Howard and Martin routinely wear brass knuckles at night because the neighborhood's not safe and they often carry large amounts of money.

A coroner's report Hix received Monday showed Howard had multiple skull fractures, Hix said.

"That indicates to us that Shawn was hit long after he posed any threat to anyone," Hix said. "When he was fleeing, staggering away, he posed no threat to Badgewell."

Barring a change of mind from Harris, Hix said he and the family would prepare a petition asking Attorney General Drew Edmondson to convene a grand jury to investigate the case.

Oklahoma law requires signatures from 5,000 registered voters to force the attorney general to act, Hix said.