ANADARKO A former district attorney, eliminated as a suspect by investigators, testified Thursday that he and Diane Shenold had a lovers' disagreement shortly before the woman was murdered.
Former District Attorney Tony Burns made the statements on the second day of testimony in the retrial of Timothy John Bates in Caddo County District Court. Bates, 26, is charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of Shenold, who was found dead in her Anadarko home July 10, 1989.
Officials determined an attacker smothered the 35-year-old woman, who was divorced with two children, by pressing a pillow over her face.
Burns, who also is divorced, testified that he and Shenold, whom he called "a girlfriend and a friend," had been dating for about nine months and that the two had had sexual relations. Burns said he also was dating a Norman woman at that time.
Burns said he admitted to Shenold the day before she was found dead that the second woman had spent the previous two nights at Burns' Anadarko home.
"She wasn't angry or mad, she was upset," Burns said of Shenold.
Burns said he and his 4-year-old son visited Shenold at her home the afternoon of July 9, at which time Burns invited Shenold and her children to his home to go swimming. She declined, Burns said.
"We didn't have an argument," Burns said under cross-examination by defense attorney Steve Hess. "She was upset. I wasn't upset with her."
He said Shenold did not speak much and "I was trying to talk my way out of it."
Burns said he drank "probably a six-pack of beer" that day. "I don't know," he said. "I didn't keep track."
Burns said he phoned Shenold after 10 p.m. that night and talked for a few minutes and that Shenold called him around midnight to again discuss his seeing the other woman.
He said he told Shenold during one conversation that he didn't plan to see the Norman woman again.
Burns said his ex-wife picked up the couple's children around 10 p.m., and that he was alone in his home the rest of the night. "I didn't leave my house," he said.
Attorneys for Bates have sought to cast Burns as a more likely suspect in the killing.
Richard Goss, an Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agent, testified that three people, including Burns, mentioned Bates as a possible suspect. He said investigators used interviews with about 200 people to narrow the list of suspects to Burns and Bates.
An OSBI agent has testified that Bates told him that he didn't know the victim.
He said Burns was dropped as a suspect when results of a DNA laboratory analysis were delivered to investigators. Prosecutors have said they will present testimony indicating those tests matched blood samples from Bates with semen found on the victim's body.
Bates' first trial in October ended in a hung jury, and a mistrial was declared. BIOG: NAME:Archive ID: 450818