Bartlesville man convicted in wife's death.

Tuesday, August 8th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. (AP) -- A man was found guilty of first-degree murder Tuesday in the drowning death of his wife after their car went into a rain-swollen river.

Jurors recommended life without parole for Michael Hicks, a Bartlesville photographer.

Merrie Lynn Hicks drowned in the Caney River on June 26, 1999, after the family car went off Highway 75.

Hicks had said he set the cruise control on 72 mph while returning from Tulsa but nodded off and the car plunged into the river. He had said he got out the driver's side window and searched for his wife in the river.

But Carolyn Summers of Salem, Ore., testified that she and Hicks had an affair and that Hicks spoke of a plan to rid himself of his wife.

Summers said that Hicks told her before the crash that he was driving his wife home after she had surgery once and that his wife was medicated and unconscious in the rear of a van.

Hicks had said he could have easily driven the car over the edge and "be done with her," Summers testified.

After the accident, Summers said she contacted authorities.

Lead investigator Eddie Virden had said he doubted Hicks' innocence when he found the photographer standing on a bridge near the Caney River without signs of mud or water on his clothes.

Virden eventually concluded that Hicks sedated his wife, who was taking several medications for various health problems.

In a court affidavit, Virden alleged that Hicks hopped out of the car, which was traveling about 16 miles per hour, before it entered the river.

Lynn Hicks' autopsy report indicated that the amount of one medication in her system, promethazine, was nine times higher than
the prescribed level she was to take.