Serial killer's letter highlights Oklahoma's county jail backlog problem

A letter from a man described as a serial killer to the Cleveland County judge who sentenced him to life in prison last fall illustrates the state's ongoing battle with what prison officials call county jail backlog.
by Andrew Knittle Published: January 21, 2013
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A letter from a convicted murderer to the Cleveland County judge who sentenced him to life in prison last fall illustrates the state's ongoing battle with what prison officials call county jail backlog.

Billy Dean Battenfield was convicted of his fourth murder in September after he pleaded guilty to the brutal slaying of Clair Owen Pollard, a retired social worker who originally lived in Maine.

Battenfield also was convicted of three murders in Texas and New Mexico in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The convict, who was described by a former FBI profiler as “serial killer,” had already spent more than half his life behind bars when he killed Pollard in late November 2011.

Cleveland County Judge Steve Stice sentenced Battenfield to life in prison — without the possibility of parole — in September.

The letter from Battenfield to Stice, dated Dec. 17, is seeking information about why the convict has yet to be transferred to a state prison.

“To this date, I am still waiting for the district attorney and the court clerk's office to certify my judgment and sentence in order for the sheriff to transport me,” the inmate wrote.

Battenfield does not complain about the county jail or list any grievances in the one-page, handwritten letter.

Stice, who responded in a letter dated the following day, issued a simple response. But despite its brevity, the letter points to overcrowding in the state's prisons as the reason for Battenfield's perceived lengthy stay at the Cleveland County jail.

“I investigated your concern,” the judge wrote. “Your (judgment and sentence) has been prepared, signed and certified for some time.

“Your transport to DOC will happen as soon as space in DOC is available.”

Both letters are part of the case file available on the Oklahoma State Court Network website.

County jail backlog


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by Andrew Knittle
Investigative Reporter
Andrew Knittle has covered state water issues, tribal concerns and major criminal proceedings during his career as an Oklahoma journalist. He has won reporting awards from the state's Associated Press bureau and prides himself on finding a real...
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