Evidence sought from murder cases connected to former police chemist

Thursday, September 27th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Evidence from 10 murder cases associated with former Oklahoma City police forensic chemist Joyce Gilchrist has been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury, according to a published report.

The Daily Oklahoman, in a copyright story, reported in Thursday's editions that nine of the cases have already resulted in the execution of the defendants. In the other case, a man was convicted of first-degree murder in 1997 and sentenced to life without parole.

The subpoena is the first indication that a federal grand jury will hear evidence involving Gilchrist, who is the subject of federal, state and local investigations. The FBI has been reviewing case files from the Oklahoma County district attorney's office for months.

Gilchrist was fired Tuesday for laboratory mismanagement, criticism from court challenges and flawed casework analysis, police said.

The subpoena, issued Sept. 7, orders Police Chief M.T. Berry to deliver to a grand jury ``all evidence, to include physical and forensic evidence, as well as investigative records'' for the cases, including ``investigative notes, incident reports, and any follow up reports pertaining to the cases.''

The deadline for turning over the information is Tuesday.

Special Agent Gary Johnson, FBI spokesman, said his agency is conducting an investigation to determine if anyone's civil rights have been violated.

The cases include:

_Malcolm Rent Johnson, who was executed Jan. 6, 2000, for the 1981 rape and strangulation death of Ura Alma Thompson, 76. In August, The Oklahoman obtained an internal police memorandum showing that Gilchrist made mistakes in her forensic analysis of the case.

_Loyd Lafevers, who was executed Jan. 30 for the murder of Addie Hawley, 84. She was raped, beaten and set on fire in 1985. Lafevers' co-defendant, Randall Cannon, cited Gilchrist in an appeal of his death sentence, but the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in August upheld the sentence.

_Mark Andrew Fowler and Billy Ray Fox, who were put to death Jan. 23 and Jan. 25 respectively for the 1985 murders of Rick Cast, 33, John Barrier, 27, and Chumpon Chaowasin, 44, at an Edmond grocery store. Fox had been fired from the store several months before the killings.

Gilchrist testified that hairs consistent with both Fox and Fowler were found on a victim's body, but a defense expert disagreed with her analysis.

_James G. Robedeaux, who was executed June 1, 2000, for killing and dismembering Nancy Rose Lee McKinney, 37, in 1985.

_Roger James Berget, who was put to death June 8, 2000, for the murder of Rick Patterson, 33, a Moore Central Mid- High math teacher. Berget pleaded guilty to shooting Patterson during a carjacking.

_William C. Bryson, who was executed June 15, 2000, and Marilyn Plantz, who was executed May 1, for the murder-for-insurance-money of Plantz's husband, James Plantz, 33, a newspaper pressman at The Oklahoman.

_Dion A. Smallwood, who was put to death Jan. 18 for the murder of his ex-girlfriend's mother in 1992. Smallwood beat Lois Frederick, 68, with a croquet mallet and burned her alive.

_James R. Thomas, who is serving life without parole in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester for the 1993 rape and murder of his 81-year- old neighbor, Jessie M. Roberts.