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Entries in Oklahoma (45)

Sunday
Apr172011

Storms Roll Through South, Killing Dozens

Ablestock/Thinkstock(RALEIGH, N.C.) -- Tumultuous weather moved through the southern part of the country over the weekend, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake and claiming the lives of dozens of people.

On Sunday the National Weather Service reported that over 40 people were killed in six states over a three-day period of violent weather, however, officials say they expected that number to rise as more and more reports come in.

In North Carolina, dozens of people were reportedly killed after numerous tornadoes tore through some 20 counties across the state. The severe weather has destroyed a number of homes and businesses in Raleigh and left thousands of residents without power, prompting North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue to declare a state of emergency on Saturday night.

In Virginia, there were also some reprots of storm-related fatalities, according to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. Officials say deaths occurred in Gloucester County, Waynesboro, and in Page County. Several areas throughout the state remained under water Sunday, as officials urged residents to be cautious in their cleanup efforts.

Several fatalities have also been reported in Arkansas, Alabama, Oklahoma and Mississippi.

The storms began in Oklahoma on Thursday where at least five tornadoes touched down. In addition to the above mentioned the states, the storms have also hit Tennessee, Louisiana and Georgia with gusts of wind ripping down power lines, tossing mobile homes and toppling trees.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec022010

Convicted Murderer Justin Walker's Facebook Page Has Been Disabled by the Social Network

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PALO ALTO, Calif.) -- Facebook has deactivated the page of a convicted murderer who had access to a BlackBerry in his Oklahoma prison because it violated the social network's policy.

"In Oklahoma, it is against the law to possess a cell phone in jail," Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes told ABC News on Thursday. "Since his activity was unlawful in that state, we disabled the profile yesterday."

Facebook shut down Justin Walker's page Wednesday after ABC News reported on how the prisoner, incarcerated for murdering a sheriff in 2006, had managed to update his Facebook account from behind bars with photographs and complaints about prison life.

Cathy Lawrence, the mother of the man whom Walker killed, said Wednesday that she was furious to learn that he was able to get a BlackBerry in his cell and has been corresponding with friends and posting photos on Facebook.

"It probably wouldn't be printable what I think about Justin Walker having a cell phone in prison," Lawrence said from her home in Bristow, Okla. "I feel like he's allowed to keep on living his life and he deprived my son of his life and his four children of a father."

"It's insulting that Walker would do something like that," she added.

Walker, 32, was convicted in April 2006 of murder in the second degree after striking a plea deal in the death of Pawnee County Sheriff Dwight Woodrell Jr., who was shot and killed Oct. 13, 2001, while investigating a burglary.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov292010

Federal Judge Bars Oklahoma Ballot Initiative on Sharia Law

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A federal judge in Oklahoma on Monday barred the implementation of a ballot initiative, passed by 70 percent of voters in Oklahoma, that would have forbidden state courts from considering Sharia Law in their decisions.

"This order addresses issues that go to the very foundation of our country, our Constitution, and particularly, the Bill of Rights," Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange wrote. "Throughout the course of our country's history, the will of the 'majority' has on occasion conflicted with the constitutional rights of individuals," she wrote.

The controversial initiative was passed even though its supporters acknowledged they had no evidence that the state's courts were considering Sharia -- the body of law based on Islam and the Koran -- in their decisions.

The initiative was immediately challenged by Muneer Awad, Oklahoma executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who filed suit claiming the measure violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution, which forbids the government from giving preference to one religion over another.

Opponents of the initiative say it is an unconstitutional scare tactic aimed at discriminating against Muslims. They say it will have a broad impact in the areas of family law that come before the courts and could prove to have national implications.

"The Court finds that plaintiff has shown that he will suffer an injury in fact, specifically, an invasion of his First Amendment rights which is concrete, particularized and imminent." Judge Miles-LaGrange wrote in granting Awad's request for a preliminary injunction. "The actual language of the amendment reasonably...may be viewed as specifically singling out Sharia Law, conveying a message of disapproval of plaintiff's faith."

State Senator Rex Conrad, who penned the legislation, told the Los Angeles Times, "Oklahoma does not have that problem yet...but why wait until it's in the courts?"

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov112010

Oklahoma Plans to Execute Convict Using Veterinary Drug

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(OKLAHOMA CITY) -- Lawyers for a death row inmate in Oklahoma are protesting a state plan to kill their client using a drug typically used to put down animals amid a nationwide shortage of the anesthetic regularly used in executions.

Oklahoma is considering the use of pentobarbital, a drug used to euthanize animals, in the upcoming execution of John David Duty, a convicted murderer scheduled to be executed on Dec. 12.

Across the country, states that implement the death penalty by lethal injection are scrambling to determine alternative ways to kill convicts.  Hospira, the maker of sodium thiopental, better known as Pentothal, has announced a suspension of production of the drug because of an unspecified supply problem with the drug's key ingredient.

"We are probably going to look at a number of different options now that we can't use sodium thiopental," said Jerry Massie, spokesman for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.  "We are not sure yet what we'll end up using, but pentobarbital is a strategy we're looking at."

In court documents requesting approval to use pentobarbital, the state called the drug "an ideal anesthetic agent for humane euthanasia in animals," comparing it to the sodium thiopental used as the first part of a three-drug cocktail administered during an execution.

In federal court documents filed Monday, Duty's lawyers argued that using pentobarbital is potentially painful and would be tantamount to torture.  "Pentobarbital is untested, potentially dangerous, and could well result in a torturous execution for Mr. Duty," his lawyers wrote.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov112010

Shariah Law Outlawed in Oklahoma State Courts, Ignites Debate

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(OKLAHOMA CITY) -- A new chapter in the age-old debate about the role of religion in government is playing out in Oklahoma this month as a federal judge considers the constitutionality of a ballot initiative that forbids state courts from considering Islamic Shariah law in their decisions.

Although sponsors of the measure produced no evidence that Shariah law -- the body of law based on the Koran and the religion of Islam -- is actually being used in the courts, voters approved the measure by a 70 percent margin Nov. 2.

Oklahoma Sen. Rex Conrad, who penned the legislation, told The Los Angeles Times, "Oklahoma does not have that problem yet.  But why wait until it's in the Courts?"

Opponents of the ban say it is an unconstitutional scare tactic aimed at discriminating against Muslims.  They say it will have a broad impact in the areas of family law that come before the courts and could prove to have national implications.

Muneer Awad, Oklahoma executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, filed suit in federal court two days after the election.  Awad claimed the measure violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution, which forbids the government from giving preference to one religion over another.

He says that the sponsors have tried to stigmatize and segregate his faith as something to be feared, while Shariah can play an important role in the areas of marriage and probate law.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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