LAWTON, Okla. (AP) — Two teenage girls from Lawton pleaded guilty to their roles in the killing of an 81-year-old man during a robbery and each was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Kelsey Campbell and Jade Burns, both 17, pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder.
The two had been facing first-degree murder counts in the death of Johnny Thorp, whose body was found inside his west Lawton home in March 2008.
A third defendant, Richard Paul Gallegos, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in February and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty against Gallegos in exchange for his testimony against the two girls.
According to Burns' statement to police, Gallegos struck Thorp with a handgun five or six times in the face after he refused to tell him the combination to a safe. The three are believed to have made off with $90 and the gun and left Thorp's house in the dead man's truck, according to a police affidavit.
Assistant District Attorney Fred Smith said prosecutors had discussed a plea agreement with Burns and Campbell, "but up until just recently there was no movement on either side."
After Gallegos was sentenced, Smith said, the victim's family contacted the district attorney's office and said it was open to a negotiated plea with the remaining defendants, and it supports the arrangement made final on Tuesday.
"They were consulted at every step of the negotiation, and it is acceptable with them," Smith said.
With the plea, the defendants avoided the possibility of life sentences, Smith said, and the state reduced the likelihood of appeals.
Campbell was 15 at the time of the crime, and Burns was 16.
Greer County Associate District Judge Danny Deaver was assigned to the case after all the district judges in Comanche County recused themselves because the victim's son-in-law, Ken Graham, is a local attorney. Attorneys for Campbell and Burns also sought to have District Attorney Robert Schulte removed from the case, alleging that Graham had helped Schulte in political campaigns.
As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors agreed they would not appear at future pardon, parole or commutation hearings. Smith said Oklahoma law requires Campbell and Burns to serve at 85 percent of their sentences, a little more than 21 years.
"We think it is a good disposition of a very, very unfortunate event," Smith said. "These girls were young … at the time, and taking into consideration their ages, their backgrounds and everything, we think this is a fair disposition."