Tate pleads innocent in officer shooting

Friday, June 9th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CLAREMORE, Okla. (AP) -- A teen-ager charged with killing a Delaware County reserve officer has pleaded innocent to a first-degree murder charge.

The attorney for 17-year-old Slint Tate entered the plea on Tate's behalf Thursday.

Tate is charged in Rogers County with shooting Vernie Milford Roberts, 65. He also faces one count of larceny of a vehicle.

The shooting occurred in July 1999 as Roberts and his wife were transporting Tate from the Delaware County Courthouse in Jay to the Tulsa Juvenile Detention Center on a second-degree burglary complaint.

Authorities allege Tate grabbed Betty Jean Roberts and told the deputy to stop the car and unlock Tate's leg irons. Vernie Roberts was shot in the chest during a scuffle over the deputy's revolver.

The shooting occurred six miles inside the Rogers County line on U.S. 412 near Inola.

Former Craig County Judge Jess Clanton gave the state until June 29 to decide whether to file a motion asking for the death penalty. The case was set on the Aug. 21 jury docket.