Trial of Debbe Leftwich, Randy Terrill, former Oklahoma lawmakers, to advance after delay

After a year on hold, a bribery case against two former Oklahoma legislators soon will move forward to trial.

BY NOLAN CLAY Modified: December 14, 2012 at 7:53 am •  Published: December 14, 2012
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After a year on hold, a bribery case against two former legislators soon will move forward to trial.

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals heard arguments Thursday on whether prosecutors can add a conspiracy count to the bribery case against former state Rep. Randy Terrill and former state Sen. Debbe Leftwich.

“An opinion will follow in due course,” Presiding Judge Arlene Johnson said at the end of a hearing that lasted about 45 minutes.

The prosecution of the case has been on hold because of the legal issue.

The appeals court is expected to rule against prosecutors, meaning the trial next year will center only on the bribery charge.

“Complex murder cases are handled in less time than this,” Terrill told news reporters after the hearing Thursday.

Terrill, 43, of Moore, is charged with offering a bribe to a candidate to withdraw. Leftwich, 61, of Oklahoma City, is charged with soliciting and/or accepting a bribe to withdraw.

Prosecutors filed the bribery case in Oklahoma County District Court on Dec. 22, 2010.

Prosecutors at a preliminary hearing last year sought to add the conspiracy count to the felony case. Special Judge Stephen Alcorn in November 2011 ruled there was insufficient evidence to support a conspiracy count. The special judge did rule prosecutors had enough evidence for a bribery trial.

A district judge in December 2011 upheld the special judge’s ruling against the conspiracy count. Prosecutors then went to the Court of Criminal Appeals.

The appeals court originally had scheduled arguments on the issue for June 28.

Prosecutors allege Terrill, a Republican, offered Leftwich, a Democrat, an $80,000-a-year state job to not run for re-election in 2010. They allege Terrill acted to help a Republican friend’s campaign for Leftwich’s Senate seat.

Leftwich did not seek re-election, but she did not get the state job either. Brad Henry, then governor, vetoed a reform bill creating the job after an investigation was announced.

Both Terrill and Leftwich deny wrongdoing.

Terrill’s friend, Rep. Mike Christian, chose to run for re-election to the House in 2010 instead of for the Senate after prosecutors began investigating. Christian was unopposed when he ran for re-election again this year.

Christian was never charged.

Terrill ran for Cleveland County commissioner this year but lost. He said in August he has been doing consulting work on political campaigns.

Assistant District Attorney Scott Rowland said Thursday he does not expect the delay will hurt the prosecution.

“I tried a murder case just last year where the crime was five years old,” Rowland told reporters. “We retry cases sometimes where the crime is eight, 10, 15 years old.”


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