Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Okemah, OK: Man charged in 2008 deaths of 2 Weleetka girls makes court appearance, not guilty plea entered

OKEMAH, Okla. — An Okmulgee man charged with the 2008 shooting deaths of two Weleetka girls and the death of his girlfriend made his first court appearance wearing a bullet proof vest and under heavy security.

Not guilty pleas to three first-degree murder charges were entered for Kevin Sweat during the hearing Tuesday in Okfuskee County District Court. He is charged in the deaths of Taylor Placker, 13, and Skyla Whitaker, 11, near Weleetka and the death earlier this year of his girlfriend, Ashley Taylor, 23, who was last seen July 15.

Prosecutors have said they plan to seek the death penalty.

The only comment by Sweat, 25, during the hearing was "Yes sir" when asked by Judge David Martin if he understood the charges.

His attorneys said only that he is innocent until proven guilty.

Members of Taylor's family attended the hearing, saying it is only the beginning of a long, painful road for all families involved.

"I don't think there is any way you can prepare for it," Michael Taylor, Ashley Taylor's father, told reporters.

"You see him as a monster that he is. The Weleetka girls weren't," said Lee Joy Taylor, Ashley Taylor's grandmother. "They were just victimized by someone on the roadside."

An affidavit filed in the case says Sweat told investigators he shot "two monsters" who came at him after he parked his car on the side of a rural road June 8, 2008.

Martin said he would rule in early January on a request by defense attorneys for a gag order that would prohibit those involved in the case from discussing it publicly.

Sweat is being held in the Seminole County Jail without bail and is to return to court for another hearing Feb. 22.

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