An Oklahoma judge entered not guilty pleas Monday for two men accused of killing three people in a shooting spree in a predominately African-American neighborhood in Tulsa this month, according to an attorney for one of the suspects.
Jake England and Alvin Watts face murder and hate crime charges in connection with the April 6 shootings that also left two people wounded.
They appeared before a judge via a video link from jail to hear the charges against them, said Clark Brewster, England’s attorney. Neither of the men, who are being held without bond, spoke.
Watts was assigned a public defender, Brewster said. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for May 3.
Authorities say England and Watts went into a largely African-American section of Tulsa shortly after midnight and gunned down apparent strangers at four locations. Two men and one woman died after being shot in the chest, while two others were shot and survived.
All the shooting victims are Black. Police have identified Watts and England as White, though a probable cause affidavit released Friday noted England was co-owner of a truck that had Cherokee Nation license plates.
England confessed to shooting three people, while Watts admitted to police that he shot the other two, both of them fatally, according to police documents.
On Friday, Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris filed, against both men, three counts of first-degree murder tied to the deaths of Bobby Clark, 54, Dannaer Fields, 49, and William Terrell Allen, 31.
They also face two counts of shooting with intent to kill related to the two people who were wounded, according to the press release from the district attorney’s office.
In addition, the men face five counts of malicious harassment. The district attorney notes that, according to Oklahoma law, that charge infers that a person has acted “maliciously and with the specific intent to intimidate or harass another person because of that person’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin or disability.”
The charge is equivalent to a hate crime under Oklahoma law, according to Partners Against Hate, a joint project of the Anti-Defamation League, the Leadership Conference Education Fund and the Center for Preventing Hate nonprofit groups.
If found guilty on the murder charges, England and Watts could be sentenced to death or to life in prison. The maximum sentence for each charge of shooting with intent to kill is life in prison.
First Assistant District Attorney Doug Drummond said in a press release that the prosecution is likely to decide whether to seek the death penalty after the preliminary hearing is complete.