One Woman's Fight For Justice

Thursday, June 1st 2006, 10:19 am
By: News On 6

A Tulsa man cleared of a murder charge in the beating death of an elderly man is now back in court just eight months later accused of assault and robbery. Although a Tulsa County District Court jury acquitted him of her father's murder, one woman says Frank Burks is a dangerous man who should be off the streets.

News on 6 reporter Heather Lewin says the county courthouse is an all too familiar place for Deborah Stout. She is waiting outside a Tulsa courtroom to catch a glimpse of the man once accused of murdering her father, now facing charges for attacking someone else.

77-year old Donald Stout, a retired court bailiff and hospital volunteer opened his door to the wrong man in November 2002. Prosecutors say the man talked his way into Stout's apartment, and then viciously beat him in an attempt to rob him.

Witnesses identified that man as Frank Burks. Stout died of his injuries three weeks later and Burks went to trial, accused of first degree murder. "It was a good trial the first one was, I was almost positive we were gonna get a conviction.” Prosecutors felt they had a strong case, two neighbors said they came face to face with Burks leaving the victim's apartment.

But before the trial began, those witnesses died and defense attorneys discredited their statements. At both trials Burks showed up in a wheelchair, claiming a car wreck from years before left him unable to walk without assistance and that he couldn't have committed the murder. “It was just a farce."

The first trial ended in a hung jury, the second an acquittal. "I lost it, I couldn't believe it, I couldn't believe it. With all the evidence, the thing was they did a job discrediting the witnesses."

Records show Burks in and out of prison since 1985 for assault with a dangerous weapon and several other crimes including an escape in 1995. He's currently behind bars again with assault and robbery charges pending.

Stout says she may never see justice done for her father. No one was convicted of his murder. But she says she's keeping a close eye on the man she believes is responsible. "I wanna know what's gonna happen to this guy. If I can be there as a silent witness for my Dad, then I'll be there. And I want him to see me because I know he knows who I am."

Stout says at one point Burks offered to plead to second degree murder in her father's death, but she and the DA said no.