The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals Thursday upheld the murder convictions and death sentence of Scott James Eizember, who was found guilty in the Oct. 18, 2003, deaths of an elderly Depew couple that launched a multistate crime spree.
The five-member court was unanimous in affirming Eizember's first-degree murder conviction for the bludgeoning death of A.J. Cantrell, 76, and second-degree murder conviction in the shotgun slaying of Patsy Cantrell, 70. Eizember, 46, was sentenced to 150 years in prison for her death.
But the court was divided 3-2 in affirming Eizember's death sentence for A.J. Cantrell's murder. Dissenting judges said they disagreed with the sentence because jurors who were biased toward imposition of the death penalty were allowed to sit on Eizember's jury.
The court also upheld Eizember's other convictions in the case, including shooting with intent to kill then-16-year-old Tyler Montgomery, the son of his ex-girlfriend, Katherine Biggs, and assault with a dangerous weapon against Karla Wright, Biggs' mother.
He was also convicted of breaking into the homes of the Cantrells and Wright. Biggs was staying in Wright's home.
Eizember was the focus of an intense manhunt following the shootings but managed to elude law enforcement authorities for 37 days. He was discovered on Nov. 23, 2003, by a 75-year-old volunteer at a Depew church where Eizember was hiding. Eizember escaped by stealing the volunteer's vehicle, which he abandoned near Waldron, Ark.
He was captured later that day outside Lufkin, Texas, after kidnapping an Arkansas physician and his wife, holding them at gunpoint for six hours and forcing them to drive to Texas. The physician eventually shot Eizember four times with a gun his wife kept in the couple's van.