DA: Charges Dropped In 2011 Murder Case After Key Witness Refuses To Cooperate

Wednesday, September 9th 2020, 9:28 pm
By: Kristen Weaver

TULSA, Okla. -

Friends of a murder victim are furious after prosecutors dropped the charges against the suspect Wednesday.

Peggy Gaytan's murder went unsolved for nine years until a few months ago, when Patrick Hamstard was arrested and charged. Now he's going to be a free man.

The Tulsa County District Attorney said their only witness in the case was hostile and refused to cooperate, so they had no choice but to drop the charges of first-degree murder and attempted robbery.

Jennifer Harmon had nothing but high hopes today as she sat in court waiting for Patrick Hamstard's preliminary hearing.

"We did not leave there with much hope at all," Harmon said.

 In 2011, Tulsa Police said Peggy Gaytan was working at her job as a clerk at the Shell station at 36th and Harvard when she was shot and killed.

Two men were captured on surveillance video, but years went by with no arrests until May, when Tulsa Police took Patrick Hamstard into custody for murder. The second suspect was dead, killed in a home invasion.

District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said the decision to dismiss the charges wasn't easy.

"It's frustrating for law enforcement and prosecutors, we're very familiar with the tragedy," said Kunzweiler.

He said the case was lost without their key witness.

"Very frustrating though. I can only imagine what it's like for the victim's family," Kunzweiler said.

Harmon was a friend of Peggy's and she and other neighbors worked hard keep Peggy's memory alive and keep the case in the news over the years. She said the hardest part today was telling Peggy's family what happened.

"To have to let them know within a few minutes, it's devastating, and we are furious about it," Harmon said.

Harmon said she can't believe Hamstard was let go and said she will keep fighting for justice, especially for Peggy's granddaughter, who was already preparing her victim impact statement.

"Just be present in prayer with her," Harmon said.

Kunzweiler said this does not mean this case is over but said law enforcement will have to keep working on the case to get answers.