DUNCAN - Johnny Dale Black - a man once convicted of manslaughter - was convicted Tuesday by a Stephens County jury of first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Bill Pogue.
Black also was found guilty of assault and battery with a deadly weapon in the stabbing of Richard Lewis, Pogue's son-in-law.
Black, 33, is locked in a legal battle for his life.
At 9 a.m. today, District Attorney Gene Christian will open the state's case for the death penalty.
"This verdict has relieved the family quite a bit," said Art Lewis, Richard Lewis' father. "Whether or not he (Black) is put to death... well, whatever happens, happens. I'm not a vindictive man. I'm a Christian man.
"Now that doesn't mean I'm against the death penalty. In this particular case, I think the death penalty is justified."
A jury of six men and six women needed less than an hour and half to conclude Black maliciously and willingly used deadly force against Pogue during a chance roadside encounter south of Ringling on Jan. 4, 1998.
By his own admission, Black, his brothers Jimmy Lee Roy Black, 30 and Jesse J. Black, 21; Cal Eugene Shankles, 20; and Robert William Seals, 26; forced Pogue's Blazer off State Highway 89 that night and engaged in a fistfight. The brawl quickly turned deadly, when Black said he opened his pocketknife in defense of his brothers.
Ironically, it may have been Black's own words that "he knew how to kill somebody with a knife" that convinced the jury the attack was not a defensive act.
Pogue, 54, suffered 10 stab wounds, broken ribs and two punctured lungs. The Ringling horse trainer was pronounced dead later that night at the Healdton Hospital with his son, Charles, and brother, Don, among those at his side.
"I won't relish watching him (Johnny Black) die," said an emotionally drained Don Pogue outside the courtroom. "I stood in that emergency room and watched Bill die. That was terrible, seeing him begging for air."
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