Man admits role in Claremore beating death

Thursday, February 22nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CLAREMORE, Okla. (AP) -- A 19-year-old who admits serving as lookout when an elderly woman was beaten to death last year says he's sorry.

David L. Clem pleaded guilty Wednesday to a reduced charge of second-degree murder in the January 2000 death of Erie Anderson Raybon, 88. He faces a 20-year prison term upon sentencing March 19.

"I know this probably doesn't mean much to you, but I'm sorry," Clem told Raybon's family after making his plea. "If I had known this was going to happen I would never have done this. I am truly sorry."

Clem and Dallas Hastings went to Raybon's house to burglarize it, thinking no one was home, authorities said. Hastings admitted hitting the woman on the head with a claw hammer six times after he surprised her while she was sleeping on the couch. Police said Clem never entered the house.

Hastings, 20, pleaded guilty earlier this month under an agreement with prosecutors that spared him from the possibility of receiving the death sentence.

Raybon's family described how the single mother had worked in cotton mills and raised three children without any assistance.

Mary Strickland said her mother, at 88, remained an "active and energetic" person who lived in and cared for her own home, grew a garden, drove a car and was involved in a doll-making business.

"I'd really like to believe it if he's sincere," a teary Strickland said of Clem's apology. "But only he and God know that."