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Testimony begins in former Oklahoma legislator's bribery trial

Former state Rep. Randy Terrill to testify in his own defense that he never promised a job to then-state senator Debbe Leftwich, his attorney said in opening statements.
by Nolan Clay Modified: October 22, 2013 at 9:48 pm •  Published: October 22, 2013

A prosecutor told jurors Tuesday that former state Rep. Randy Terrill was motivated by his ego when he manipulated a state senator from the opposite party into not running for re-election.

“Some people like to control things, to be the power broker,” Oklahoma County Assistant District Attorney Jimmy Harmon said in his opening statement at Terrill's political bribery trial.

“Some people like to be the ones calling the shots. He was becoming the person at the Capitol calling the shots,” the prosecutor said.

Terrill, 44, of Moore, is charged with a felony — offering a bribe to a candidate to withdraw. If convicted, he faces up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Prosecutors allege Terrill, a Republican, in 2010 offered then-Sen. Debbe Leftwich, a Democrat, a new $80,000-a-year state job at the medical examiner's office to not run for re-election.

Prosecutors allege Republicans hoped to take Leftwich's seat so that they would have enough votes to override any veto if a Democrat won the governor's race in the 2010 elections.

“They wanted power,” Harmon said in the opening statement.

The assistant district attorney also told jurors that Leftwich was led to believe she would have lost her re-election bid even though a Republican-sponsored poll showed she likely would have won.

“It centered around power, control, influence, manipulation,” Harmon said of Terrill's motive.

Terrill denies wrongdoing.

>>Read: Bribery case against Oklahoma ex-legislators to move forward (Published Feb. 21, 2013)

His defense attorney, Chris Eulberg, told jurors Terrill was a hardworking legislator with a reputation at the Capitol for being a bulldog who got things done. The attorney said Terrill was trying to help the medical examiner's office overcome turmoil so severe that bodies sometimes stacked up.

In his opening statement, the defense attorney wrote on a chalk board five problems with the prosecution's case.

He said that the evidence will show Terrill had no authority to offer any state job, that the job at the medical examiner's office never existed and that Leftwich was legally prohibited from accepting it. He called the prosecution's case “whistles and bells and smoke and mirrors.”

The defense attorney also told jurors that Terrill will testify in his own defense that there was absolutely no deal with Leftwich, that he didn't care if she ran again and that he did not promise her a job.

Leftwich, now 62, also is charged with a felony — soliciting and/or accepting the bribe to withdraw. Her jury trial is set for December. She did not run for re-election.

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by Nolan Clay
Sr. Reporter
Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,...
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