Family awaits execution of double murderer

Monday, March 24th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Sylvia Stokes and Drusilla Morgan have been gone since 1988, but for Cynthia Stokes they live on in her memories and in the faces of her sister's children.

Cynthia Stokes was 28 years old when she went from being a mother of three to a mother of seven. She had to take care of Sylvia Stokes' three young children and her 11-year-old sister, Crystal.

``I miss them and stuff, but they're still here,'' Cynthia Stokes said Monday of the children, now ages 20, 10 and 16. ``Every day is a blessing. They have really been my strength.''

Cynthia Stokes said the children have not had any contact with their father, John Michael Hooker, who faces execution Tuesday evening for the deaths of their mother and grandmother.

``I never raised them to be against him. I always left that door open,'' Cynthia Stokes said. ``He never reached out to them either, to make amends or tell his side of the story or anything like that.''

Hooker's lawyer filed an appeal and a request for a stay of execution with the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday. The attorney general's office was crafting a response, said Charlie Price, a spokesman with the attorney general's office.

Calls to attorney Randy Bauman were not immediately returned.

If it happens, Hooker will be executed nearly 15 years to the day he stabbed Morgan and Stokes to death.

March 27, 1988, was the day Sylvia Stokes had wanted Hooker out of the apartment they shared with their children.

About a week before, she had taken the children and moved in with her mother.

Sylvia Stokes had told Cynthia Stokes that she feared Hooker would do something to her and the children, court records show.

According to witnesses, Hooker entered the apartment that day shortly before Sylvia Stokes and Morgan went there to pick up some clean clothes and food for the children.

Residents who lived in the apartment below Hooker's said they heard loud noises, and later saw Hooker with blood on his clothing.

When Cynthia and her sister, Crystal, went to check on their relatives the following day, Cynthia had trouble getting into Hooker's apartment.

She managed to push the door open slightly, looked in and saw her mother on the floor surrounded by a pool of blood.

``I'm feeling stuff I forgot,'' Cynthia Stokes said, crying as she recalled the moment.

Sylvia Stokes was stabbed eight time and Morgan 12, causing internal bleeding that killed them both.

Violence marred the eight-year relationship between Hooker and Sylvia Stokes.

One witness reported seeing Hooker beat his girlfriend in the head with a stick that resembled a pool cue in 1986. The manager of the apartment complex said she had seen bruises on Stokes' head.

Sylvia Stokes sought a victim's protective order against Hooker in October 1987, but the couple reconciled and planned to marry in February 1988. They broke up again.

A friend of the couple testified at Hooker's trial that Hooker had talked about killing Sylvia Stokes and possibly her mother just four days before the murders.

For Cynthia Stokes, following through with that threat took away a sister who was like a twin _ they were about a year apart in age _ and a mother who was well-liked.

``Everywhere we go, people were like `we love Miss Dru.' If they needed a cup of sugar or a few dollars to carry them over until they got paid, she'd do it,'' Cynthia Stokes said of her mother.

For a while in 2001, it looked like Hooker's case might change course. Officials re-examined DNA evidence because it originally had been handled by Oklahoma City police chemist Joyce Gilchrist.

Investigators retested DNA evidence submitted in all of Gilchrist's cases after officials accused her of performing shoddy work.

Results of the retesting, however, showed that blood from Stokes and Morgan was found on Hooker's pants, officials said.

The 10th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Denver denied Hooker's appeal last year and the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal in January.

``I'm glad it's fixing to be over,'' Cynthia Stokes said. ``It's something that's never going to go away. We're going to always live with it.''

Crystal Stokes said she had ``no problem with them killing that man.''

``Not only did my mom and sister die, but my mother's only sister drank herself to death behind this.

``My uncle is 67 years old. He's been waiting on this day.''