Teenager convicted of murder to stay out of jail

Tuesday, January 25th 2005, 10:49 am
By: News On 6

A Green Country teenager convicted of murder is free and out of jail. News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan explains why the victim's family is shocked.

Looking back on it now, Donald Green Junior still can't believe what happened to his father - or to his father’s killers. “It’s the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard of, for a crime that hideous to be out in the least amount of time.”

It was Christmas Eve, 2002. Donald Green Sr., was tied up and beaten, locked in the trunk of his car, driven to Kentucky and tossed into a river. The ringleader - JB Cole - was convicted and sentenced to life without parole.

The primary accomplice was Cole's stepson, Mitchell Roberts. He was 15 - so even though he helped in a murder - he's already back home with his mother. "They listened to him in the trunk of his car, hollering he was cold and wanted to get out. That takes a cold hearted man and when Mitchell got up in front of the judge, not one whimper, he had no emotion."

Tulsa County prosecutors say Roberts got off relatively easy because of his age - and because they needed him to testify against Cole. Doug Drummond, Assistant District Attorney: "Our number one priority was to get JB Cole in prison where he would never get out.”

They got that, but now Mitchell is out, just two years after the crime. Drummond: “Is that severe enough for first degree murder? I don't think so, and is he a public safety threat? That's certainly possible, but time will tell."

In light of what's happened in this case, Tulsa County prosecutors want the law changed so teenagers who kill people can't get out of custody just because they turn 19.