A judge Friday ruled prosecutors have sufficient evidence against state Rep. Randy Terrill and former Sen. Debbe Leftwich for a bribery trial.
“Unseemly actions and even unethical behavior doesn't necessarily constitute a criminal act,” Oklahoma County Special Judge Stephen Alcorn said during his ruling. “However, when the evidence is looked at as a whole in this matter, in its entirety, it is clear this exceeds business as usual.”
Terrill and Leftwich have not formally been ordered to face trial yet. The judge held off on that step because prosecutors may appeal part of his ruling.
Prosecutors had asked him to add a conspiracy count to the felony case, and he refused. Prosecutors said they likely will appeal that refusal to a district judge.
Terrill and Leftwich were told to return to court Dec. 2.
Both deny doing anything wrong. The maximum punishment for a conviction on the bribery charge is two years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Their defense attorneys predicted they will be acquitted at trial.
“Jurors almost inevitably make the right decision, using common sense and the instructions,” said Terrill's attorney, Stephen Jones. “Jurors have the unique ability to find out where the beef is and to separate an honest criminal prosecution from a continuation of politics under another name. … I think the weakness of the prosecution's case is evident from the witnesses and the testimony.”
The ruling on the evidence in the largely circumstantial case came on the fourth day of a preliminary hearing.
The judge said he was reminded during the hearing of the famous quote that laws are like sausages, it's better not to see them being made.
“Judges tend to be a bit cynical and tend to be realistic, but the court admits to being disappointed in what has repeatedly been described as business as usual at the Capitol,” Alcorn said.
Terrill, 42, of Moore, and Leftwich, 60, of Oklahoma City, had no visible reactions in court as the judge announced his ruling.