Staff and wire reports
From The Associated Press
OKLAHOMA CITY —
An Oklahoma appeals court has upheld the life prison sentence of a man convicted of second-degree murder in the stomping death of another man at an Enid bar.
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals handed down the decision Wednesday for 34-year-old Grady Lewallen Jr. A Garfield County jury convicted Lewallen of the Feb. 14, 2012, death of 53-year-old Robert Abraham. He was sentenced Oct. 9, 2012.
Abraham was found unresponsive in a bathroom at The Mine Company, and he later was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Authorities say Lewallen told police Abraham attacked him by kicking in a bathroom stall door. An affidavit filed in the case states Lewallen told investigators he kicked Abraham back, the victim fell and he kicked him several more times.
Lewallen had prior felony convictions in Arkansas for burglary, first-degree battery, theft by receiving and theft of property, according to court documents. There were two convictions in 2004 and three in 2010.
The Garfield County jury deliberated for less than two hours following Lewallen’s four-day trial, before returning a guilty verdict. They deliberated about 20 minutes before recommending a life sentence.
Jurors had the option of finding Lewallen guilty of first-degree murder with malice and forethought, which was punishable by life or life without the possibility of parole, but could not reach a unanimous decision.
The prosecution played a videotaped interview of Lewallen conducted by Enid Police Department Detective John Robinson.
Lewallen initially denied ever going into the bar bathroom that night in the more than hour-long video, and stated he barely knew the victim.
Later in the interview, after Robinson said he’d spoken to witnesses at the bar, Lewallen changed his story.
“I was in the bathroom when this guy comes in,” he said.
Lewallen said the man kicked in the door of the last stall and he kicked the man, threw him into the bathroom counter and kicked him twice. Lewallen said he saw the man approach the stall from the gap under the door.
The video showed Robinson leaving the interview room and Lewallen standing on two chairs in the room and checking the vents. Robinson briefly returned before leaving again.
Lewallen placed his face in his hands and breathed heavily before looking at the door to the interview room and striking his knee three times with his fist, then standing and rubbing his knee against the table.
Robinson returned to the room and asked Lewallen about any injuries he suffered in the assault. Lewallen pulled down his pants and showed Robinson his knee and stated that was where the stall door hit him.
“That mark on your leg is not from rubbing on the table,” Robinson asked.
“No,” Lewallen replied.
“Or punching yourself in the leg?” Robinson asked.
Lewallen again said no.
Robinson asked Lewallen why he tried to create the injuries to himself.
“I didn’t have a mark where the door hit me and I reckoned it might be better if I did,” Lewallen said.
Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office Dr. Inas Yacoub testified to the injuries that killed Abraham. She said the cause of the death was multiple blunt-force trauma and manner of death was homicide.
She said she removed 1,200 CCs of blood — more than four cups worth — and blood clots from Abraham’s abdominal cavity during autopsy. She said the tissue that holds the organs to the spine was torn, which accounted for the amount of blood.
She also said he had suffered eight broken ribs on the back of his rib cage. She said those breaks showed bleeding, while other broken ribs on his chest were indicative of life-saving efforts.