Teen pleads innocent to officer shooting, prosecutors to seek death penalty

Tuesday, August 22nd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CLAREMORE, Okla. (AP) -- A teen-ager has pleaded innocent and waived his right to a speedy trial in connection with the shooting death of a Delaware County sheriff's reserve deputy last year.

Slint Tate was 16 when he was charged with first-degree murder in the July, 1999, death of Vernie Milford Roberts, 65.

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against Tate, who is now 18.

Tate's trial was set for Jan. 23.

Tate is accused of shooting Roberts once in the chest while he was being transported to the Tulsa County Juvenile Detention Center, where Tate was scheduled to spend a couple of days following a second-degree burglary complaint.

Authorities said during his transfer from the Delaware County Courthouse to Tulsa, Tate grabbed Roberts' wife, Betty Roberts, from behind and told her husband to stop the car and give him the key to his leg irons.

Roberts stopped the vehicle but refused to give him the key, officials said. Roberts was attempting to handcuff Tate when the boy took Roberts' .38-caliber handgun and shot him, officials said.