Oklahoma appeals court reinstates Mixon video lawsuit

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma appeals court has breathed new life into a lawsuit by broadcasters seeking surveillance video used as evidence in a misdemeanor assault case against Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon.

The Court of Civil Appeals on Monday reinstated the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters lawsuit against the city of Norman that was dismissed last year by Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman. The lawsuit seeks release of the video under the state Open Records Act.

The court says broadcasters have a valid argument for the video's release and the judge did not explain how not releasing it outweighs the public's interest in accessing what it ruled is "a public record."

Mixon was suspended from the team after pleading guilty to misdemeanor assault for knocking a woman unconscious near the OU campus.

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Oklahoma forfeiture overhaul not on committee agenda

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A proposal to overhaul Oklahoma's civil asset forfeiture law may not be considered this legislative session after the bill did not appear on a Senate committee agenda as Thursday's deadline for committee reports looms.

Instead, the Senate Judiciary Committee agenda released Monday includes a different bill by Republican Sen. David Holt to require compensation for attorney fees, court costs and interest on property to people who prove in forfeiture proceedings that their assets were seized wrongfully. The bill stops short of most of the reform provisions in a bill by Republican Sen. Kyle Loveless that would raise the state's burden of proof for forfeiture and require a criminal conviction before the state could keep seized property.

The committee is to meet 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at the state Capitol.

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Authorities say 2 dead in mobile home fire near Woodward

WOODWARD, Okla. (AP) — Woodward County authorities say two people are dead following a weekend fire near Woodward.

Sheriff Kevin Mitchell told The Woodward New that the bodies of Debra Firth and Larry Ruppel were found in a burned mobile home. He said both victims were in their 50s.

Mitchell said the Woodward and Sharon Fire Departments were called to the home about 8:30 a.m. Saturday and found the home fully involved in flames.

He said the bodies were sent to the state medical examiner's office and the cause of the fire remains under investigation by the state fire marshal.

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Oklahoma average gasoline prices rise during past week

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The average price for gasoline in Oklahoma is up by 6 cents per gallon during the past week, but is 7 cents lower than a month ago and 68 cents less than a year ago.

AAA Oklahoma says the statewide average for a gallon of regular gas is $1.46 per gallon — tied with Missouri for the lowest price in the nation.

Prices in selected cities range from $1.38 in Muskogee to $1.54 in Ponca City. Motorists in the Tulsa metro are paying $1.39 per gallon while the price in the Oklahoma City metro is $1.46.

AAA spokesman Chuck Mai says prices are likely to rise as refineries undergo spring maintenance.

The national average is $1.71 per gallon and the highest prices are $2.57 in Hawaii and $2.32 in California.

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Man slain outside Tulsa bar was set to help violence victims

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — An Arkansas native who was fatally shot outside a bar in south Tulsa was two weeks away from moving to Texas to mentor children affected by violence when he was killed.

Tulsa World reports that Nathan Brooker, 27, was fatally shot in the back parking lot of Momma T's Big Easy Lounge around 2 a.m. on Feb. 6.

The incident occurred two weeks before Brooker was scheduled to move to the Houston area and become a counselor with Resolve It Inc., a nonprofit organization helping at-risk youth who have been abused or targeted in a violent crime.

"Nathan was prepared to dedicate his life to helping the victims of violence," said Tim Booker, Nathan's father. "And yet they will not be getting his help because he became a victim of violence. There's just no words to describe the unfairness of it all."

A longtime basketball player, Nathan Brooker was planning to help children through teaching them the sport.

"We were going to take some of these inner-city kids and use the tool of basketball to get them involved in something and learn the discipline and the self-control and self-respect that comes with success in sports," said Tim Brooker, who became a program director at Resolve It at the start of this year.

Police say the shooting occurred during a confrontation.

Watani Gleason, 31, has been charged with first-degree murder in the case. He is being held in Tulsa County Jail without bond.

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Oklahoma foresters say Okmulgee wildfire almost contained

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Forestry Services says firefighters have almost contained a large wildfire east of Okmulgee.

Officials say the Pharoah-Nuyaka fire has burned about 34 square miles and is about 60 percent contained. But residents will likely see and smell smoke for several more days.

Foresters said Monday they will turn control of firefighting efforts over to local fire departments from the area and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Wildfires have burned about 97 square miles, numerous homes and outbuildings since Thursday. State forester George Geissler says the Oklahoma Office of Emergency Management is still assessing the extent of damage from the wildfires.

Forecasters say weather conditions are predicted to be moderate through Tuesday, with higher humidity and lower temperatures. But western Oklahoma could experience wind gusts of up to 50 mph.

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Highway patrol: 14 injured in 2-vehicle crash in Oklahoma

GLENPOOL, Okla. (AP) — Authorities say more than a dozen people were injured in a two-vehicle wreck in Okmulgee County on Sunday night.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says a van carrying members of the faith-based recovery group Teen Challenge of Oklahoma was having mechanical issues and stalled on U.S. 75. Tulsa television station KOTV reports that a northbound truck rear-ended the stalled van at about 10 p.m. Sunday.

The highway patrol says 14 people were taken to hospitals with injuries, including two who were transported by medical helicopter.

Authorities say the wreck also sparked a small grassfire, but it was brought under control.

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Magnitude 3.7 earthquake shakes northwestern Oklahoma

ALVA, Okla. (AP) — The U.S. Geological Survey says a 3.7-magnitude earthquake hit northwestern Oklahoma on Monday morning.

The USGS says the quake was recorded at 9:17 a.m. about 20 miles south of Alva in Woods County. The earthquake was recorded at a depth of about 3 miles.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

Geologists have concluded that some earthquakes in the state have likely been triggered by the injection of wastewater from oil and natural gas operations. The number of earthquakes with a magnitude of 3.0 or greater has risen in Oklahoma from a few dozen in 2012 to more than 900 last year.

Last week, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission instructed producers to reduce injection volumes by more than 500,000 barrels a day in a 5,200-square-mile area of northwest Oklahoma.

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Libertarians say they expect political party recognition

SEAN MURPHY, Associated Press

 

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma voters could see Libertarian Party candidates on their ballots this year for the first time since 2000.

Members of the Oklahoma Libertarian Party delivered more than 42,000 signatures on Monday to the state Election Board, significantly more than the 24,745 needed to become a recognized political party in Oklahoma.

"We did it," said Tina Kelly, the party's vice chair, standing next to four boxes filled with signatures. "Now we have to make it count."

Once the signatures are confirmed, Oklahoma voters will be able to register as members of the Libertarian Party and vote in primary elections if more than one candidate declares for an office.

Kelly said she's aware of about a dozen candidates who intend to register as Libertarians and run for office, including two possible candidates for Oklahoma's U.S. Senate seat. Dax Ewbank, who ran as a Republican against Gov. Mary Fallin in 2014, said he is considering a U.S. Senate run as a Libertarian.

Nicholas Sarwark, chairman of the Libertarian National Committee, described libertarianism as emphasizing personal freedoms, free markets and peace.

"Today, it's a new day in Oklahoma," Sarwark said. "Oklahomans will have other options."

Kelly praised the Legislature for passing a bill last year to reduce the number of signatures needed to become a political party, but she said Oklahoma law still makes it difficult to remain a party. The top Libertarian candidate on the November ballot will need to get at least 10 percent of the vote in order for Libertarians to remain a recognized party.

Kelly said she is working with the Legislature on a bill to reduce the percentage threshold to remain on the ballot from 10 percent to 2.5 percent. That measure unanimously passed a Senate committee last week and is next scheduled for a hearing in the full Senate.