Prosecutors charge three men in death of Creek County couple

Saturday, April 27th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SAPULPA, Okla. (AP) _ Three Tulsa men face two counts each of first-degree murder in the fatal beatings of a Creek County couple.

Prosecutors on Friday charged Mitchell Aaron Coleman, 25, Leslie Rick Dobbs, 28, and Eddie Leon Simmons, 38. The trio are scheduled for initial court appearances on Tuesday.

The men are accused in the slayings of Earl Martin Kirkwood, 55, and Karen Kay Strange, 41, whose bodies were found March 28 at their home west of Sapulpa. Coleman also was charged with attempted first-degree rape for allegedly attacking Strange.

Kirkwood and Strange were bludgeoned in the attack, and Kirkwood was stabbed in the hip and rib cage, authorities said. Both died of blunt trauma to the head, the state medical examiner ruled.

Alternative ``felony murder'' counts were filed against the three suspects, who prosecutors say killed the pair while committing the crime of robbery with a dangerous weapon. Tattooing equipment was taken from the residence, according to an affidavit.

The defendants were arrested last week after authorities interviewed Dobbs' cousin, Johnny Dobbs. Johnny Dobbs said he saw the men tell others on March 28 that they had gone to Kirkwood's home early that morning.

According to an affidavit, the trio saw Kirkwood come out of his residence with a shotgun and point it at Dobbs. Simmons allegedly hit Kirkwood with an ``edged weapon,'' and Kirkwood dropped the firearm, authorities said.

Dobbs allegedly picked up the shotgun and hit Kirkwood in the head several times, records show. Coleman is accused of entering the residence and attempting to rape Strange before he was pulled off by the other defendants. They then struck her on the head repeatedly, documents claim.

Creek County authorities interviewed Coleman before the beatings and he told them he was upset with Kirkwood for having a sexual relationship with Coleman's estranged wife.

He told authorities to arrest Kirkwood for manufacturing methamphetamine, which was found at the crime scene.

All three men are felons.