Prosecutors file charges in death of burned homeless man

Saturday, May 11th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma County prosecutors have filed first-degree murder and arson charges against a homeless man in the death of another transient whose burning remains were found chained to a fence.

Anthony Lee Tedford, 43, is accused of choking or strangling Alonzo Lincoln Bailey, 33, and setting him ablaze.

``On its face, what took place was absolutely grotesque,'' Oklahoma County District Attorney Wes Lane said Friday.

Prosecutors are awaiting a medical examiner report on the exact cause of death and the circumstances surrounding it.

``If he was unconscious or dead at the time the burning took place, then it does not meet the requirements of being a heinous, atrocious or shocking crime,'' Lane said.

If Bailey was conscious when he was doused in accelerant and set on fire, prosecutors may seek the death penalty.

On Sunday, firefighters called to the scene of a trash fire behind the W/W Steel Fabrication Plant discovered Bailey's body beneath a mound of blazing wooden pallets. His limbs, torso and neck had been bound, and he had been padlocked to a chain link fence.

Tedford, who was camping just east of the crime scene, was arrested a short time later. Tedford has tattoos that imply affiliation with the Ku Klux Klan. Bailey was black.

Based on media reports of the case, the FBI has launched a preliminary hate crime investigation. Findings will be presented to the Justice Department.

According to Lane, the police investigation does not support racism as the motive.

``The evidence presented so far has not been indicative of the sort of things that a hate crime requires,'' Lane said.

The killing may have occurred because Bailey was keeping Tedford awake.

Even if the evidence did show that racism was the motive, Lane said, Oklahoma statutes provide only a misdemeanor hate crime charge, with a fine of $1,000.

Tedford had a previous arson conviction in 1979.