State Supreme Court Settles Another Round in Stafford Case

Article excerpt

The Oklahoma Supreme Court justices settled another round in the lengthy appellate process in the case of Roger Dale Stafford, convicted in Oklahoma County for the Sirlion Stockade murders.

The high court denied a petition for mandamus to order District Judge J. Kenneth Love of McCurtain County to authorize the expenditure of court funds to provide an expert witness for post-conviction proceedings.

Stafford alleged the trial court erred in admitting testimony from witnesses who had been placed under hynosis during the state's investigation of the criminal case.

Stafford asked the court for $16,500 so he could retain the services and deposition of an expert witness in the field of hypnosis in an attempt to discredit post-hypnotic testimony of three witnesses. The appeals court ruled the testimony of two of the witnesses was not tainted as a result of the hypnosis. The Supreme Court could only address the testimony of one witness; however, it was neverestablished that the witness was placed under hypnosis.

Certiorari from the U.S. Supreme Court was denied.

A person charged with a criminal offense who faces the death penalty may apply to use government funds if he is unable to pay and can demonstrate the expert testimony is essential to preparation ofthe defense.

The state Supreme Court cited Ake vs. Oklahoma, in which the indigent defendant was provided with an expert, pyschiatric witness to address the question of the defedant's sanity. Stafford asserted the Ake rule is broad enough to require the state to provide an expert, but the court disagreed. …