#1 Murder, insane or not, is still MU...

#1 Murder, insane or not, is still MURDER

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Ashlee Wilkerson

United States

#1 Dec 15, 2010
So I've written this article to summarize my interpretation of current Oklahoma Laws regarding "not guilty by reason of insanity" and what my family and I have been through over the past 2 years. This month marks 2 years since Damien Wilkerson was murdered by his best friend, Stephen Ritter. I'm attempting to get this information out to others so that laws can be changed. I've submitted this to newspapers and news stations. We are making others aware of this situation. If we could get the law changed, at least then we could feel that some justice was served for Damien.


Murder, insane or not, is still MURDER


On December 12, 2008 my brother in law, Damien Wilkerson, was murdered by his long time best friend, Stephen Ritter.
Damien married his wife (my sister) Ashlee Grissom in October 2008 and they were expecting their first child together in April 2009. Madisyn was born on March 23, 2009, a beautiful, healthy baby girl.
There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t wonder how our lives would have been different, had this terrible tragedy not happened.
Stephen Ritter was arrested on December 13th, 2008, the day after Damien was murdered. At that time he was arrested on a material witness charge. Stephen was allowed bond and he bonded out for $200,000. On December 14th, he was arrested again but this time the charges were 1st degree Murder and 3rd degree Arson. Stephen appeared in court and was formally charged with these crimes.
In January 2009, Stephen requested to speak with an OSBI agent because he was wanting to confess to the murder. OSBI was called in and Stephen waived his rights for his attorney to be present. He told the OSBI the ENTIRE story, he even told details of where they could find certain items belonging to Damien, that were left at the crime scene. Court proceedings continued, pretrial came and went.
Competency was an issue over the next 2 years. But, Stephen was deemed competent to stand trial and the proceedings continued.
Earlier this year, the defense attorneys approached the District Attorney with a deal of a “non-jury trial”, if we would drop the death penalty. Our understanding of the deal was life in prison or life in prison without parole. Ashlee and Damien’s family agreed to take the deal.
The defense then introduced the insanity plea. The non-jury trial began on October 12, 2010 and ended October 18, 2010. We never imagined he would actually receive the insanity verdict.
Several key items were introduced as state's evidence, including the taped confession, telephone records between Stephen and his family and pictures of the defendant (Stephen Ritter) burning his clothing in the early morning hours of December 12, 2008.
The judge ruled the defendant not guilty by reason of insanity. The judge threw out the confession, after the trial, because of pending competency issues at the time of the confession. I'm sure there were reasons for this, but why would you allow it and then throw it out? He ruled not guilty by reason of insanity because the defense witnesses testified that Stephen suffered from a medical diagnosis of Schizophrenia, Paranoid Type. Even though ALL of the witnesses never questioned Stephen about the actual day or time period surrounding the murder. How do you determine someone's sanity at the time of the crime, if you don't speak with them about it? The state attempted to prove that his paranoia was related to his drug-induced psychosis related to his history of drug use, which is what his treating physician had diagnosed him with and had been seeing him since the first competency evaluation.

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Ashlee Wilkerson

United States

#2 Dec 15, 2010
#2
The theory is, persons who are insane cannot have the intent required to perform a criminal act because they either do not know that act is wrong or cannot control their actions even when they understand the act is wrong.
From what I understand, in the state of OKLAHOMA, the M'Naghten Rule is utilized and the burden of proof rests with the state.
The M’Naghten Rule is a test to determine if defendants can distinguish right from wrong. It is based on the idea that they must know the difference in order to be convicted of a crime. In states where the burden is on the defense to prove insanity, the defense is required to show either clear and convincing EVIDENCE or a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant is insane. In states where the burden is still on prosecutors to prove sanity, they are required to prove it BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT!!!! REALLY????? Shouldn’t it be the other way around. Why should the state have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone is sane?
I have a hard time swallowing this. It’s hard enough on my family, having to live with the fact that Damien is gone, but now we are faced with the fact that his killer will be released, and could possibly be released very soon. There is no minimal sentence on these rulings. We have accepted the fact that there is absolutely nothing that can be done for this case. It’s over, Stephen Ritter had his trial and he was found not guilty by reason of insanity. We can’t appeal or hire some big shot attorney to look the case over. It’s done, it’s over, the fat lady has sang!
Stephen Ritter is currently being held at Oklahoma Forensics Center, while he is getting treatment for his “illness”. Once he has been treated and is “better“, which I’m sure will be VERY QUICKLY, he could be released at that time. He will be RELEASED to live his day to day life, he can go on and live, as if nothing ever happened. He will not have restrictions, parole, anything. I guess, according to Oklahoma Law, justice was served. Stephen Ritter was accused and the courts found him not guilty by reason of insanity. I may not be happy with the courts decision, and I will never believe that Stephen Ritter is insane, but then again I‘m entitled to my own opinion. I’m not the one that will lay awake at night wondering if &/or when he will murder again, once he is released back into society. And he will be released back into society again. Something to think about isn’t it?
In 1975, Michigan became the first state to adopt the laws of allowing pleas and verdicts of “GUILTY but MENTALLY ILL”. "Guilty but mentally ill" verdict allows mentally ill defendants to be found criminally liable and requires them to receive psychiatric treatment while incarcerated, or, alternatively, to be placed in a mental hospital and then when they are well enough, they are moved to a prison to serve their sentences. Why has Oklahoma not adopted this law???
I want someone to explain this to me, I want more answers. I don’t understand how a man that shot his best friend in the back of the head, drove him to another location and then set fire to him and his truck, can be set free to live a normal life in society with you and me. In the meantime, my sister Ashlee is raising her daughter without her husband and my precious niece is without her father. She NEVER had the chance to know what it's like to have a father, and that is all because of Stephen Ritter. But he gets to walk away, he gets to live his life, he will get to see his family everyday. Basically he gets AWAY WITH MURDER!
What does it take to change the law in Oklahoma. If you commit the crime, you should still be held responsible for your actions, insane or not!
I am asking for help in changing the Oklahoma law regarding “not guilty by reason of insanity” pleas and verdicts. I’m trying to get awareness out to others. We had no idea that the state of Oklahoma was this lenient on insane murderers.
Amy Grissom-Sipes
Ashlee-Grissom-Wilkerson
FlyBy

White Oak, TX

#3 Dec 16, 2010
I cannot imagine what your family must be going through after all of this ordeal. I pray that your family does not give up on this subject and you will find some peace. There ARE DOC facilities that do house the mentally challenged or mentally unstable. The Dept. of Corrections are always crying because they are so broke so I think the judges find every possible way not to lock them away. I read the H'ville news the other day on the front page where a woman gets 5 years for stealing and another gets 72 months for killing a person while driving under the influence of drugs !! The entire thing does not make sense to me.. I do not know either of the men you have talked about however I did read it in the paper and I was truly disgusted with the verdict.. EVERYONE needs to remember these verdicts the next time the judge comes up for re-election.. Girls, do not stop here go to the capital or call your representatives !!! Good Luck!!
Abc

Oklahoma City, OK

#4 Dec 18, 2010
Are you guys related to that highway patrol?? Could he have helped you any or can he still?
Searching for Truth

Stuart, OK

#5 Dec 20, 2010
Sometimes having a nonjury trial means now the judge can be bought. Could this be what happened in this case?
whatever

Ada, OK

#6 Dec 20, 2010
That is unreal. I often wondered what happened in that case. I don't see how an insane person, not knowing the difference in right from wrong, still manages to try to cover up the act. That doesn't sound like an insane act, it sounds like a deeply thought out pre-meditated murder. Yet he is just going to walk. This type of person, will do it again. He now has the mentality that he is untouchable in the court system. I'm sure that everyone that knows him directly, knows that he isn't insane. Makes me sick.....
Jack Mehoff

United States

#7 Dec 20, 2010
That's the first thing I thought. This was clearly pre-meditated and yet he is found not guilty by reason of insanity! I have no stake in this but how can the judge that made that decision live with theirself?(I'm sure the grammer isn't right on that) I know one thing from what I hear from respectable people is that Lane Ritter has lost a ton of respect but I dont even think he cares about that. Bottom line is someone is dead, someone killed, and someone got away with it! Clearly the justice system didn't do it's job.
curious

Elk City, OK

#8 Dec 20, 2010
Who was the judge in this case? Any prior questionable decisions an if so, what?
Amy sipes

Dallas, TX

#9 Dec 21, 2010
The judge was George Butner. Yes, I've heard he has been making some other questionable calls on other cases. Rumor is, he had a stroke several years ago and hasn't been the same since. However, no one has run against him and that's why he is still the judge for that county. There have also been some talk about him being good friends with the Ritter's, but who knows. I know that the case is over and we can not appeal the decision, which is wrong!! So now we are working to prevent this from EVER happening again. We want the law changed. Please help by writing your state reps. I've written them several times but they are not responding to me at this point!! Maybe if they are bombarded with emails, they will finally respond!! It isn't right that this cold blooded murderer could be released as early as next month!!! Yes, he has a court date with Judge Butner in early January. And if that dummy said he was not guilty by reason of insanity despite all of the evidence that said otherwise, I'm sure he will release him soon!!! Amazing what a little money can do for ya and how far it can get ya!!

Since: Dec 10

Location hidden

#10 Dec 21, 2010
Such a crock of you know what. That's why people in your town get be with everthing.
curious

Elk City, OK

#11 Dec 21, 2010
Don't think Butner is the one that had the stroke. But making a decision like this one with a clear head is even worse! Wonder what his real reasoning was or if there where outside influences with his decision.
whatever

Ada, OK

#12 Dec 21, 2010
Amy start a petition, and get as many registered voters to sign it as you possibly can. That "may" get someones attention.
Amy sipes

Dallas, TX

#13 Dec 21, 2010
Well rumor around that town is, he was paid to give that verdict. Is there anyway to prove it, I'm sure there isn't, but I've heard from people who live/work in that town that Judge Butner is crooked and natorious for taking payoffs!! I thought attorneys/judges took some type of oath??
Ashlee Wilkerson-wife

Seminole, OK

#14 Dec 21, 2010
George Butner did have some kind of medical issue around the time his daughter graduated high school, I'm not sure what it was. His decision in this case never included any thoughts of the victims. He never cared about the person that was taken from us. Damien NEVER should've died! The rumors around Wewoka and Holdenville are that George Butner was going around tell several different people about this case, saying he didn't want to be involved with another John Grisham novel. This trial started out a joke! The judge and defense attorneys had a special relationship during court, they made jokes and laughed, nothing was ever serious!!! We never had a chance at fair trial. I have heard about another case that recently ended involving a car accident where a lady died. The man driving the other vehicle had drugs and alcohol in his system and he is only receiving 73 weeks in jail and he is getting credit for time served. What is wrong with this judge?? Can someone tell me? In the next few months there will be murderer and a crack head free to go on with their lifes while the victims have to suffer. If anyone knows of a case that involved Judge Butner, please let me know.
Ashlee Wilkerson-wife

Seminole, OK

#15 Dec 21, 2010
Abc wrote:
Are you guys related to that highway patrol?? Could he have helped you any or can he still?
\

Yes, that is Damien's brother. And no he can't help. Damien also has two uncles, Mike and Dick Wilkerson. Neither of them can help either. Its pretty much a done deal. The only thing we can do is get this law changed.
pissed

Elk City, OK

#16 Dec 21, 2010
I hear that Judge Butner's brother is an attorney who often represents clients in Hughes Co. court. Talk about conflict of interests! Also, wasn't his brother-in-law also a judge that was kicked off the bench for intimidating court employees? His family must have alot of pull in Hughes county. Sounds pretty corupt to me
Revoltair

Chickasha, OK

#17 Dec 21, 2010
I wonder if there is a "lemon law" that allows elected officials like Butner to be recalled.

Since: Dec 10

Location hidden

#18 Dec 21, 2010
Revoltair wrote:
I wonder if there is a "lemon law" that allows elected officials like Butner to be recalled.
Wouldn't that be great. Some of these jerks are worse than the criminals. Crooked pieces of you know what.
Amy Sipes

United States

#19 Dec 22, 2010
Well, Kris Steele has replied to me via email and I have sent him contact information, so hopefully something will start happening!! YAAAAA!
I'm hoping once the ball starts rolling on changing the laws, I can get the ball going on getting "Judge Idiot" removed from the bench. I plan on airing EVERYTHING that I hear about him.
Does anyone know who you contact to report Judges for misconduct?
He shouldn't be allowed to remain on the bench, surely there is some type of board they have to report to.

Since: Dec 10

Location hidden

#20 Dec 22, 2010
Amy Sipes wrote:
Well, Kris Steele has replied to me via email and I have sent him contact information, so hopefully something will start happening!! YAAAAA!
I'm hoping once the ball starts rolling on changing the laws, I can get the ball going on getting "Judge Idiot" removed from the bench. I plan on airing EVERYTHING that I hear about him.
Does anyone know who you contact to report Judges for misconduct?
He shouldn't be allowed to remain on the bench, surely there is some type of board they have to report to.
Go to www.socyberty.com/law/crooked judges. You will find some very interesting things. Go girl-people need to account for their actions.

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