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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Three suspects jailed in shooting death

  • Pottawatomie County authorities have arrested three suspects in connection with Monday's shooting death of a Norman man.
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  • Pottawatomie County authorities have arrested three suspects in connection with Monday's shooting death of a Norman man.
     
    Sheriff Mike Booth said James Isaac South, 35, and Michael Preston Choate, 24, were already in custody Tuesday on first-degree murder complaints as the search was on for a third suspect, Bradley Austin Keith, 28.
     
    Keith was apprehended late Tuesday afternoon in Oklahoma City, Booth said.
     
    Formal charges have not been filed, but all three are jailed in connection with the shooting death of Albert L. Rider, 53.
     
    Rider, who had a gunshot wound to the chest and other blunt force injuries to his head, was driving his van Monday morning when he crashed into a pipe fence and gate at a residence on New Hope Road in far western Pottawatomie County.
     
    Booth said from the 911 call, Rider told the homeowner that his house, reportedly about 3.5 miles away from that scene, had been robbed and he had been shot.
     
    Rider was transported to OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City, where he died from his wounds before being able to convey further information to investigators.
     
    Pottawatomie County deputies, along with Cleveland County deputies, district attorney investigators and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, spent Monday probing the case as they worked to piece together what happened.
     
    Rider's home, which is in Cleveland County, was burglarized Monday, Booth said.
     
    Booth said they believe Rider was shot in a rural roadway area not too far from where he crashed his van.
     
    Before that incident, Rider was seen at the Country Boy store in Cleveland County, where Booth said he stopped to ask if anyone had purchased items with a large amount of change, possibly stolen from his home.
     
    Booth said it appears Rider was aware of the home burglary and it's possible he may have been searching for those responsible.
     
    The sheriff said investigators believe at some point, Rider had a confrontation in rural Pottawatomie County, which resulted in him being shot. A witness reported hearing yelling and two gunshots in that same area.
     
    The OSBI forensics team spent Monday collecting evidence from Rider's van, the sheriff said, which included blood and fingerprints.
     
    As part of the probe, Booth said investigators were able to identify the three suspects in the case with help of a cell phone that had a bloody fingerprint. That cell phone, listed on a court affidavit as belonging to Keith, was found at the reported site of the confrontation in Pottawatomie County, Booth said.
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    Text messages and other information from that device led authorities to further their probe and identify the three suspects.
     
    Booth said it appears that Choate knew and had previously worked with Rider at an electrical company.
     
    Information from a probable cause affidavit shows that investigators obtained information from an Oklahoma City man late Monday night that Keith and South had planned to burglarize a house, and that Choate gave them a ride out to the home.
     
    Choate reportedly returned without South or Keith and was supposed to pick them up, but neither showed at the meeting spot, the document reads.
     
    The man told investigators that Keith called him on the phone saying he was in a "bad situation" and needed to be picked up.
     
    Choate, who happened to be at the man's Oklahoma City residence, was questioned. He reportedly said he identified Rider's residence to Keith and South and dropped them off near SH 9 so they could steal items out of this yard. When he went back to pick them up, they started seeing police cars and left after Keith could be heard on the phone running in the woods, the document reads.
     
    While authorities were at that residence, South walked up to the front porch. Investigators saw blood on his shorts as well as cuts over his legs. South reported he and Keith were last together Monday morning and were smoking methamphetamine, the affidavit shows.
     
    Task force investigators arrested both South and Choate in Oklahoma City late Monday night and began the search for Keith, which ended Tuesday afternoon.
     
    Cleveland County deputies have been investigating the burglary at Rider's Norman home, with authorities recovering all of the stolen property with the exception of two firearms, Booth said.
     
    The sheriff, who said he was pleased to have suspects in custody so quickly, said the district attorney's task force and deputies did a "fantastic job" working this homicide probe.
     
    Although the case still remains under thorough investigation, Booth said all reports will be turned over to the district attorney's office for consideration of any formal charges being filed.
     
    Choate was jailed in the Pottawatomie County Public Safety Center Tuesday night without bond on a complaint of first-degree murder.
     
    South was jailed without bond on complaints of first-degree murder, second-degree burglary, possession of controlled dangerous substance, possession of stolen property and paraphernalia, jail records show.
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    Keith also was expected to be booked into the local jail on complaints of first-degree murder sometime Tuesday night.
     
    Their next court appearances on the complaints are listed for Oct. 23.
     
    Watch for updates.
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