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Judge may rule on death sentence case

By Nick Trougakos Published: October 6, 2004
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An Oklahoma County judge is expected to make rulings this week on a death sentence case involving embattled former police chemist Joyce Gilchrist.

Oklahoma County District Judge Twyla Mason Gray heard testimony Monday and Tuesday in an evidentiary hearing in the case of Curtis Edward McCarty.

McCarty, 42, has been tried twice and sentenced to death three times in Oklahoma County District Court for the 1982 killing of Pamela Kaye Willis, 18. Prosecutors argued McCarty stabbed and strangled Willis at a southwest Oklahoma City house.

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals ordered the evidentiary hearing to help determine if McCarty received a fair trial and resentencing hearing. The appellate court is asking Gray to make rulings on 16 questions, most of them relating to the handling of evidence and testimony given by Gilchrist.

A police chemist for 21 years, Gilchrist was fired in 2001 following investigations of her forensic work. The investigations were spurred by a federal judge's opinion that Gilchrist had testified falsely in a murder trial.

Gray heard testimony this week from several witnesses, including J. Douglas Perkins, an Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation supervisor who reviewed Gilchrist's work in the McCarty case.

Perkins testified there were problems with the way Gilchrist documented her forensic work, leading him to question her findings.

Defense attorney David Autry, who represented McCarty during the second of his two murder trials, said there were "gross inconsistencies" in the way Gilchrist documented and accounted for hair samples in the case.

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