SEMINOLE — Investigators refuse to provide any details about the Nov. 9 stabbing death of a teenager outside a Seminole High School football game and have blocked access to normally open records that would shed light on what happened that night.
Jonathan Weaver, 15, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Nick Tilley, 16. He also is charged with assault with a deadly weapon in the stabbing of another teen.
Seminole police Lt. Branon Bowen said officers were called about 9:25 p.m. to the intersection of Mike Snyder Street and Jefferson Street near the stadium because of a fight. They found Tilley's body when they arrived.
Weaver was arrested the next day. Bowen said investigators think the incident might have been gang related.
Police said they do not have a report on the incident because the investigation was turned over to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. OSBI officials have refused to give any information about the case or say why Weaver was arrested.
The Oklahoma Open Records Act requires law enforcement agencies to release information about people who are arrested, including the facts concerning the arrest and the cause of the arrest.
The Oklahoman requested that information Tuesday from the OSBI. The agency's general counsel, Jimmy Bunn, denied the request.
“In a small town, it would be fairly easy to determine who these witnesses are just by releasing the circumstances which were involved,” Bunn said.
State law keeps confidential the OSBI's investigatory records, but that provision does not apply to basic arrestee information included in the Open Records Act, said Joey Senat, a journalism professor at Oklahoma State University and open records expert.
“Those basic things that are listed in the Open Records Act, they have to make it available,” Senat said. “If they are exempted even from giving those basic records, then they are essentially a secret police.”
A spokesman for the Seminole County Sheriff's Department said the jail does not have a photo of Weaver.
At the OSBI's request, District Judge Gayla Arnold sealed the arrest affidavit, which normally would be included with the formal charges against Weaver. Such affidavits give a basic summary of the information that led to the suspect's arrest.
Arnold said she sealed the affidavit because it includes the names of several witnesses, some of whom have been threatened over their cooperation with authorities.
“I don't intend to keep it sealed beyond the completion of the investigation, but with credible threats on the table with regard to witnesses, I found that in this case, the privacy interest of the individuals outweighs the public's right to know until the investigation is complete,” Arnold said.
Arnold said she does not know how long it will take the OSBI to complete the investigation.