Judge releases records to newspaper

Friday, April 20th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

(CLAREMORE) - A Rogers County judge released the juvenile records Thursday of a Fairland teen-ager who was convicted in the shooting death of a reserve deputy to a newspaper.

The confidentiality requirement protecting the records of Kenneth Slint Tate ended ``at the time of his conviction,'' District Judge Dynda Post said. Post also said she believed Tate ``no longer has the right to object.''

The Tulsa World requested the records. Post asked the newspaper's attorney, Schaad Titus, to prepare an order so Tate's records could be released. Titus said he would submit the order to Rogers County District Court by Friday.

A judge sentenced Tate, 18, to life imprisonment without parole after Tate pleaded guilty in a deal with prosecutors.

Tate was accused of fatally shooting Vernie Milford Roberts, 65, as he was being transferred from the Delaware County Jail to the Tulsa County Juvenile Detention Center on July 19, 1999. While on U.S. 412 in Rogers County, Tate and Roberts scuffled over the deputy's handgun and Roberts was hit.

The Tulsa World sought Tate's juvenile and law enforcement records before a Delaware County judge, but he refused the request.

The newspaper appealed to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which in February 2000 declined to clarify a law governing when juvenile records are open for public inspection.

The World turned its request to Rogers County earlier this year and was granted a hearing by Post.

Rogers County prosecutor James W. Ely, said eight juvenile cases had been filed against Tate _ two in Delaware County and six in Ottawa County. One of the Delaware County charges concerned an alleged assault and battery upon a student, Ely said.

During an April 2000 hearing in Rogers County, testimony showed that Tate was sentenced to 90 days in a juvenile boot camp for five crimes committed in Ottawa County. They were first- and second-degree burglary and battery and three grand larcenies.

``If there is information for the public to draw conclusions and make demands from our leaders, then that's good,'' Post said. To keep the public ``in the dark'' about how the juvenile court system performs ``does a disservice,'' she said.

The judge said juvenile placement, treatment and early intervention are important but ``sadly underfunded.''

``We fund prisons, and we don't adequately fund juvenile work,'' Post said.

Tate's defense attorney, Silas Lyman, asked that Post delay her ruling until he could talk to his client, who didn't appear at the hearing. Lyman said the counsel who represented Tate in the other open records matter should be allowed to argue on the teen's behalf.