Three defendants charged in connection with a 2012 Pottawatomie County homicide were scheduled for preliminary hearing Friday, but it was postponed until April with the filing of new amended charges.
The case involves the shooting death of Albert L. Rider, 53, of Norman. 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.
Three Oklahoma City residents were arrested and charged. James Isaac South, 35, and Bradley Austin Keith, 28, were initially charged with murder in the first degree, while Michael Preston Choate, 24, was charged with second-degree murder in the case.
All three were set for preliminary hearing Friday, where a judge determines if there’s enough evidence for a case to proceed. Prosecutors asked for a continuance as they filed amended charges in the case, with Choate now charged with first-degree murder in the incident. The amended charges also add an additional conspiracy count.
All three will face the judge during a combined preliminary hearing, which is now scheduled for April 12.
Reports from the case indicate on the day of Rider’s death, he crashed his vehicle into a homeowner’s fence and told that 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, probed the case to piece together what had happened. They knew Rider’s home in rural Norman was burglarized, but believed Rider was shot in a rural roadway not too far from where he crashed his van.
Investigators determined Rider was aware of the home burglary and was likely searching for those responsible when he had a confrontation that resulted in him being shot in Pottawatomie County.
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.
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.
All three remain jailed without bond in the Pottawatomie County Public Safety Center.
Watch for updates.