Suspect in 1979 Oklahoma sniper attack faces execution

by Nolan Clay Modified: November 17, 2013 at 10:00 pm •  Published: November 17, 2013

Even after 34 years, Richard Hector Bresette Jr. remembers in detail the moments a sniper killed his mother and her boyfriend outside an Oklahoma City grocery store.

“Just like it was yesterday,” he said. “I can still hear the gunshots in my head.”

The chief suspect in the 1979 shooting faces execution Wednesday in Missouri for a murder there.

Richard Bresette, who was 10 at the time, said he will feel some relief afterward.

“He had the gall to execute my mom, so yeah; I believe he should be executed. You know, like the Bible says, ‘An eye for an eye,'” Richard Bresette said from Tennessee. “I'll feel relief that he won't do that to nobody else ever again.”

Avowed racist Joseph Paul Franklin, 63, is scheduled to be executed at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday for the fatal sniper shooting of a bar mitzvah guest outside a synagogue in a St. Louis suburb in October 1977.

In a 1994 confession, he said had searched for a synagogue in Oklahoma City to carry out his plan but moved on to St. Louis because he believed it had a larger Jewish community, court records show.

He has been convicted in seven other deaths — an interracial couple in Wisconsin in 1977, a black man in Tennessee in 1978, two black joggers in Salt Lake City in 1980 and two black teenagers in Cincinnati in 1980.

He was caught in 1980.

He has confessed to or has been implicated in a number of other shootings, including the 1978 sniper attack that left Hustler publisher Larry Flynt paralyzed from the waist down.

He said he was angry with Flynt over photos of an interracial couple in the magazine. He was never charged in that shooting.

“A lot of times he claims responsibility for stuff that there's no evidence or proof of,” his attorney, Jennifer Herndon, said. “I suspect he didn't kill as many people as he's confessed to killing, but there's no way to know for sure.

“He's done a complete 180 as far as his views,” Herndon said. “He believes he should be kept alive so he could help other people overcome their racist views.”

In the Oklahoma case, he was charged in 1981 with two counts of first-degree murder after a cellmate told investigators he had confessed to shooting a white woman and black man in a parking lot in Oklahoma.

Prosecutors dropped the case in 1983 after learning the key witness had been paid a $15,000 reward for his cooperation in another case. Prosecutors said the credibility of the witness had been substantially destroyed.

The victims had lived together in an Oklahoma City apartment and worked at the same nursing home. Marion Vera Bresette, 31, was white. Her boyfriend, Jesse Eugene Taylor, 42, was black.

They were shot on Oct. 21, 1979, after stopping at Whittaker's Foods to buy apples, police reports show. The couple and her three children were coming back from a Hula Hoop contest in a park.

The three children waited in the car.

The sniper — hiding 75 to 100 yards away behind a row of evergreen trees — shot Taylor three times after Taylor walked back to the car, according to police reports and autopsy records.

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by Nolan Clay
Sr. Reporter
Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,...
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