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Preacher sentenced to 15 years in prison on first-degree manslaughter conviction

An Oklahoma County jury late Friday convicted a preacher of first-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of his son-in-law during a dispute over a pickup.
by Matt Dinger Modified: March 8, 2014 at 12:46 am •  Published: March 8, 2014

An Oklahoma County jury late Friday convicted a preacher of first-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of his son-in-law during a dispute over a pickup.

Michael Scott Elder, 54, was charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of son-in-law Gary Davidson, 27, who was shot and killed outside his home near NW 12 and Miller Avenue on Feb. 20, 2013.

It took about 10 hours for the jury of seven men and five women to convict Elder of a lesser, alternative charge of first-degree manslaughter due to the heat of passion surrounding the crime.

The jury recommended a sentence of 15 years. Formal sentencing is set for April 28.

“We’re relieved that he was held accountable,” prosecutor Suzanne Lavenue said after the verdict was read.

“It was a stupid, senseless crime,” she said.

April Davidson, Gary Davidson’s husband and Michael Elder’s daughter, drove a pickup the couple shared and which Gary Davidson used for work over to the home. They were supposed to exchange the couple’s daughter, who Gary Davidson had picked up from day care the day before, for the vehicle.

Gary Davidson had filed for divorce in Oklahoma County the day before the shooting.

“I thought it was going to be a mutual exchange and everyone was going to be happy,” Elder testified.

But Davidson did not give the girl to Elder, and instead ran from the home to the pickup and jumped into the cab with April Davidson. Elder testified he feared for his daughter’s life and saw a shiny metal object in Davidson’s hand, which he thought was a gun.

“I’m thinking, ‘He doesn’t want the truck. He wants her,’” Elder testified. “I was totally scared. She’s my daughter.”

“I yelled at him, ‘Gary, don’t hurt her!” Elder testified. “I see a silver, cylinder-shaped object in his right hand.”

Elder said he cocked the gun and a round ejected. He chambered another round and fired the shot, but Gary Davidson didn’t respond, Elder testified.

“He raised that silver object at me, and I fired two more times,” he testified.

The first bullet hit Gary Davidson’s hand. The second went through his chest and out his back. The third bullet went into Davidson’s shoulder and hit his heart and both lungs, fatally wounding him, Dr. Chai Choi, a forensic pathologist with the state medical examiner’s office testified.

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by Matt Dinger
Court Reporter
Matt Dinger was born and raised in Oklahoma City. He has worked in OPUBCO's News and Information Center since 2006, and has been assigned to the breaking news desk since its formation in fall 2008. He specializes in crime and police reporting.
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