Medical marijuana sales reached nearly $1M in December

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Numbers from the Oklahoma Tax Commission show medical marijuana sales reached nearly $1 million in December, generating about $70,000 for state coffers from a special new tax on pot sales.

The agency released figures on Wednesday that show the 7 percent tax on medical marijuana sales generated $69,425 in December. So far in January, more than $43,000 has been collected from medical marijuana sales. Those figures don't include the standard sales tax that varies from city to city.

Oklahoma voters approved a medical marijuana state question in June , and the industry has taken off quickly . More than 30,000 Oklahoma patients and nearly 900 dispensaries already have been licensed.

The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority has generated more than $10 million in licensing fees.


Mother not celebrating death of daughter's convicted killer

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma woman whose 8-year-old daughter disappeared more than 20 years ago and is presumed dead said Wednesday that she is not celebrating the death in prison of the man convicted of killing the girl, and remains hopeful her daughter's remains will be recovered.

Shannon Hazen said she is instead praying for the family of Anthony Palma, who state prison officials say was killed in his cell Friday at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.

"I forgave a nameless, faceless predator a decade ago," years before Palma, 59, was connected through DNA to the disappearance of Kirsten Hatfield, Hazen said while breaking into audible sobs in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "I can't back off the forgiveness."

Kirsten disappeared from the family's home in Midwest City in 1997 and the case remained cold until 2015 when DNA found in blood on the girl's bedroom window and on her underwear found in the yard was linked to Palma.

He was convicted in 2017 and sentenced to life without parole.

Hazen said she wrote three letters to Palma in prison, asking only if he knew God, and replied respectfully, "until he ultimately told me to stop writing him, and I did."

"I never asked him about Kirsten. The only question I ever posed to him was 'did he have a Bible?' He did not," Hazen said. She said he wrote in the final letter that asked her to no longer communicate with him that his spiritual needs were being met by a church that visited the prison.

Prison officials say Palma died after being found unresponsive in his cell and the suspect is his cellmate, Raymond Padillo, 38, who is serving three life terms for murders in Oklahoma County.

Department of Corrections spokesman Matt Elliott declined to give a suspected motive, but said inmates convicted of crimes against children are often the target of violence by fellow inmates.

"Oh yeah, those who are serving time for victimizing children, they are definitely more vulnerable, as are others such as former law enforcement officers," Elliott said.

No one else has been linked to Kirsten's disappearance and Hazen said she knows of no one who may know where her daughter's remains are, but holds out hope they will be found.

"I'm not going to give up hope, I'm just not. I don't have to at this point," Hazen said.

Elliott said the Department of Corrections is investigating Palma's death and will provide a report to the district attorney.

The body was sent to the state medical examiner's office for an autopsy to determine the cause of death, a process that can take two to four months, according to a spokesman.


Bodies found in Oklahoma believed to be missing Texas pair

OKEMAH, Okla. (AP) — The bodies of a pair of friends who had been the subject of search parties near their central Texas homes were found in shallow graves in rural Oklahoma, according to law enforcement authorities.

A statement released by the Temple Police Department says a preliminary investigation indicates the bodies are those of Jenna Scott, 28, and Michael Swearingin, 32, who have been missing since Jan. 4. Police said their families have been notified.

"The family is hurting very, very much," Swearingen's mother, Deborah Harrison, told Temple television station KCEN.

Scott's brother, Talon Scott, said the two friends had left together to hang out with some other friends and never returned. Jenna Scott was absent from her daughter's birthday party Sunday, he said.

"She didn't show up. She planned the party," Talon Scott said. The car the two were in was found later in Austin, about 68 miles (109 kilometers) southwest of Temple.

Family members had been searching Bell County, Texas, for Scott and Swearingin.

The bodies were recovered Tuesday from clandestine graves in Okfuskee County, about 75 miles (121 kilometers) east of Oklahoma City. Investigators received information Jan. 9 that led them to property in a remote area where the bodies were discovered.

The Office of the State Medical Examiner in Oklahoma will make positive identification after autopsies, authorities said.

Meanwhile, Scott's ex-boyfriend, Cedric Marks, 44 is scheduled to be extradited to Texas from Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he is being held on a felony burglary warrant issued by authorities in Temple.

Marks is accused of breaking into Scott's home and threatening her and her family in August, according to an arrest affidavit. Marks has not been named as a suspect in the disappearances of Scott and Swearingen.


Del City man found dead in Midwest City creek

MIDWEST CITY, Okla. (AP) — Police say a man whose family feared he was missing has been found dead in a Midwest City creek.

Midwest City Police Chief Brandon Clabes said in a news release the body of 43-year-old Gabrial Bronson Pack of Del City was found Tuesday. Pack was on his back in shallow water.

Clabes said Packs' relatives had called police Sunday and Monday saying they hadn't seen him and had last heard he was planning to walk to their home in Midwest City from his house in Del City.

Clabes said Wednesday there was no obvious trauma to Pack's body. The Oklahoma medical examiner will determine how he died.