Konawa man faces 33 felony charges including murder

Wednesday, January 19th 2005, 5:43 am
By: News On 6

ADA, Okla. (AP) -- A man accused of ramming a truck full of college students and killing one will face 33 felony charges, including murder.

A Pontotoc County district judge on Tuesday agreed that prosecutors had enough evidence to charge Ammon Reich, 43, with 32 counts of assault and battery and one count of first-degree murder.

Assistant District Attorney Chris Ross said Reich, of Konawa, rammed the truck three times on Sept. 19, causing injury to the students inside and leading to the death of Joseph Tusan, a red-shirted freshman defensive back at East Central University, in Ada.

Ten other ECU students were riding in the pickup truck when the confrontation occurred. Reich was among a group of people who argued with the students under the South Canadian Bridge on Oklahoma 99. The students left the area after racial slurs were exchanged, prosecutors said.

The students got into another argument along the way before they were hit by Reich's truck, officials said. Reich's attorney says his client is innocent.

The impact also injured Dennis Scales of Mansfield, Texas, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down. Scales' attorney is expected to file a civil lawsuit against Reich.

The FBI has opened an investigation into the case as a possible hate crime at the request of the Pontotoc County District Attorney's office. Reich is white and Tusan was black.

In earlier witness testimony, Shelly Flanagan, Reich's girlfriend testified that members of her party had been drinking alcohol at a cookout before the confrontations.

At one point, Reich produced a .22-caliber rifle and fired it into the air, she said. Later, a physical confrontation occurred that witnesses said lasted about one minute.

Reich is expected to arraigned on the charges on Feb. 22.