Saturday, June 20, 2009

OK: Judge Bartheld. Will Officials Do the Right Thing?

Below is a transcript - (the typos are CNN's) of the interview with Rep. Mike Ritze regarding Oklahoma judge, Thomas Bartheld, which details the process Oklahoma officials must follow since the legislative session is over. The question however, is will State of Oklahoma officials act to rectify the problem.

PHILLIPS: Well, it's a sickening crime story. A man convicted of raping a 4-year-old girl in Oklahoma. You would think a low-life like that would spend the rest of his life in prison, right? But that's not what happened. Last month, 64-year-old David Harold Earls pleaded no contest to raping the little girl. The sentence was 20 years. But as part of a plea agreement, he will only serve one year behind bars.

In fact, due to time he already spent in jail awaiting trial, he'll get out in three months. So, how can Earls, a man convicted of raping a 4-year-old girl, get such a sweet deal? The district attorney's office says it's all because the young rape victim behaved erratically in court. Take a listen.


LISA DIRDWELL, PITTSBURG CO. ASST. D.A.: There were some problems in her testimony, even at that point. She was able to say enough to get qualified that brought a little bit that -- what he did, but it also at that time when the defense attorney got to ask her some questions, which he's entitled to do, she said she forgot. We lost the little girl's testimony. We lost the majority of our evidence. It was out the window.


PHILLIPS: Well, talk about karma, because David Harold Earls now has terminal cancer. In addition, he will have to register as a sex offender, and he will be monitored while a free man. But how does a judge go along with the plea deal that allows a rapist to go free in just a few months? here's what Judge Thomas Bartheld said about his decision.


JUDGE THOMAS BARTHELD, OKLAHOMA DISTRICT COURT: They told me that they were in agreement, that the victim's family was in agreement, the advocates were in agreement, and the defendant was in agreement. So, I took the plea.


PHLLIPS: So, what do you think? Should the judge be fired? Well, pushing forward, a couple of Oklahoma lawmakers are trying to get the judge removed from the bench. And just this week another development -- the rapist's, 43-year-old's daughter, Denise Earls, says her father is a monster and that she raped her when she was a child. Denise joins me live from tulsa, along with Oklahoma State Representative Mike Ritze, he wants Judge Thomas Bartheld fired and taken off the bench.

Denise, I want to go ahead and start with you, when you heard about this 4-year-old girl being raped by your father you, as his daughter, also now someone that has now come forward and said he raped you as well when you were a child. What was your reaction when you heard about this case?

DENISE EARLS, DAUGHTER OF RAPIST: Well, I was completely outraged, because it brought back all the memories that I went through as a child. And just to know that he only got a year when I have a life sentence to deal with this. It's been very difficult. It's just knowing that someone else is -- not only myself, that it happened to me three times when I was a child, but now someone else is going through this. And it's very hard to -- to deal with. My heart goes out to them. My -- my father is a monster and he needs to stay -- he needs to stay in prison.

PHILLIPS: Let me ask you, why did you wait until now to come forward?

EARLS: Well, I am adult. I did confront him in the last time in 1992. I was 26 years old. I did tell him that -- I would never see him again. You know, like I say, I was an adult. The statute of limitations had run out and I wanted to just -- I was married, I have a daughter, I have family. And I just wanted to move on with my life.

PHILLIPS: What did he say to you when you confronted him, Denise?

EARLS: I said, you know, you have to admit this. You have to -- we have to talk about this, I said, because I'm having a hard time dealing with in my life. And he said, well, I don't remember. I was drunk. And I said, you know what, that is unacceptable? I said this is the last time that you will see me.

PHILLIPS: I did want to say, too, that we did call the jail where your dad is. He and his lawyer said no interview -- no comment. Also I want to point out the Oklahoma attorney general is now speaking with you. Listening to your accusations, and, quote, looking to see if there is any remedy to this plea deal that has just happened. Also looking in to possible criminal charges against your father for your accusations.

And so Representative Ritze, let me ask you, why did you get involved in this case? Did your constituents hear about this and complain to you?

Yes, ma'am. We had a public outcry from our constituents. I wear two -- three different hats. I'm a physician. I'm also a child abuse examiner, state medical examiner, police physician, and now state representative. And I lecture to law enforcement all the time. So, I know the laws. I have a master's in forensic science and our constituents were contacting us. We were deluged with hundreds of e- mails and phone calls and regular mail.

And as a result Representative Mike Reynolds from Oklahoma City and myself and other representatives around the state decided to invoke a resolution from Oklahoma statutes article seven, where we can actually bring it to the attention of the Oklahoma state house of representatives, which limits it to the trial, the judiciary as a jurisdiction or a hearing process. We also have contacted the supreme court of Oklahoma. The attorney general, the governor, none of them would -- have talked to us as of yet. But now that the media is exposing us -- exposing this locally and nationally, they're starting to talk.

PHILLIPS: So, tee did try to get in touch with the judge. We also got a no-comment and a no-call from his office as well. Do you really think you can get him taken off the bench?

RITZE: Well, at this point in time we're going through the process. The Oklahoma law is very clear that any member of the House of Representatives can petition this resolution or invoke this. And then it's taken over by an actual hearing process or what we would refer to like a grand jury process by the -- a special court for trial judges. And as a result, we feel like that the process must move forward.

Unfortunately we just finished our legislative session. And we will not be back in session until february of this next year. But, the supreme court, the governor, the attorney general, they can do something immediately, and that's what we're asking for.

PHILLIPS: And that's where the pressure needs to be. Denise, are you worried about your father back on the streets, that he will rape again?

EARLS: Yes, absolutely. And that does concern me very much. So, because they set a release date of September the 24th. Knowing my father's history, just with myself and now with -- with this new story, he will definitely do this again. The man does not need to get out. That's why I am speaking out today, because this must be stopped. This man has to be in prison for the rest of his life.

PHILLIPS: Final thought, from the representative -- Representative Ritze, the District Attorney Jim Bob miller, you know, he came forward and said this, quote, this is the best deal we could do. Why not go after the DA as well?

RITZE: Well, at this point in time we are looking in to that. If he keeps raising these options and we certainly will look in to that as legislators. If there is a mechanism that we can plug -- a loophole here, we're going to look at that very carefully. I know many judges, many people in law enforcement, that would have never taken this plea to a judge. And once you take it to a judge, I know many judges that would have never accepted a plea like this.

PHILLIPS: Well, it's sickening to think that he could be back on the streets. Denise, we sure appreciate you talking with us. It can't be easy for you.

And Representative Ritze, if you don't mind, we'd like to follow up on your efforts, and indeed see what happens to this judge.

RITZE: Anytime. Thank you, ma'am.

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