Three suspects arrested in a Pottawatomie County homicide case now face formal felony charges.
Charged with murder in the first degree are James Isaac South, 35, and Bradley Austin Keith, 28.
Charges allege they caused the death of Albert L. Rider, 53, of Norman, by shooting him in a Pottawatomie County roadway on Oct. 8.
In the alternative, prosecutors also filed a first-degree murder charge alleging that the two, acting in concert and regardless of malice, took the life of Rider during the commission of felony robbery with a dangerous weapon, charges allege.
A third defendant, Michael Preston Choate, 24, is charged with second-degree murder in the case.
Choate is accused of acting in concert with South and Keith by committing burglary in the second-degree, during which Rider was killed when he was shot in the chest, the charge reads.
The investigation began the morning of Oct. 8. after Rider, suffering a gunshot wound to the chest, crashed his vehicle into a pipe fence and gate at a Pottawatomie County residence on New Hope Road.
Pottawatomie County Sheriff Mike Booth said from the 911 call made from that home, 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.
Pottawatomie County deputies, along with Cleveland County deputies, district attorney investigators and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, spent that day probing the case as they worked to piece together what happened. They knew Rider’s home was burglarized, Booth said, but believed Rider was shot in a rural roadway not too far from where he crashed his van.
Booth said it appears Rider was aware of the home burglary and it’s possible he may have been searching for those responsible.
Investigators believe at some point, Rider had a confrontation with at least two of the suspects in the rural roadway, which resulted in him being shot.
Within 24 hours of the shooting, investigators were able to identify and arrest 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.
The firearm allegedly used in the homicide, which had been stolen from Rider’s home, also was found not too far from the alleged scene of the scuffle, reports show.
Booth said it appears that Choate knew and had previously worked with Rider at an electrical company.
Page 2 of 2 - Information from a probable cause arrest affidavit shows that investigators obtained information that Keith and South had planned to burglarize Rider’s house, and that Choate gave them a ride out to the home.
All three remain jailed in the Pottawatomie County Public Safety Center Tuesday night. Their next court dates haven’t yet been scheduled.
If convicted of first-degree murder, South and Keith could face the death penalty, imprisonment for life or life without parole.
On the second-degree murder charge, Choate could face imprisonment for 10 years to life upon conviction.
Watch for updates.