Senate passes bill to create new Oklahoma watchdog agency

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A bill that would create a new state watchdog agency to oversee spending and audit other state agencies has cleared the Oklahoma Senate.

The Senate voted 38-10 on Monday for legislation to create the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency, a key goal of Senate Republicans this year.

Under the bill, the new agency could issue subpoenas to agencies, compelling them to produce documents or provide witness testimony.

Democrats who opposed the measure suggested it would be more efficient to give the State Auditor and Inspector the funding to conduct more audits.

A fiscal analysis of the bill shows it would cost about $1.7 million to get the agency up and running and another $860,000 annually to operate it.

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Jury convicts man in Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper's death

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — A 29-year-old man has been convicted of first-degree murder in the death of an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper who was struck by another trooper's patrol car during a chase.

A Cleveland County reached the verdict Monday for D'Angelo Ladon Burgess, who was accused in the July 2017 death of 43-year-old Lt. Heath Meyer.

Authorities say Meyer was injured while placing strips of spikes along Interstate 35 in Moore in an attempt to stop a fleeing vehicle Burgess was driving. Troopers say the fleeing vehicle avoided the spikes and that two other troopers chasing the vehicle tried to avoid them but collided, causing one of the troopers' vehicles to hit Meyer.

Burgess was also convicted of attempting to elude officers but was found not guilty on two drug-related charges.

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Oklahoma lawmakers send medical marijuana bill to governor

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma's booming new medical marijuana industry will have some new state regulations to follow under a bill that is now headed to the governor's desk.

The Oklahoma Senate voted 43-5 on Monday for the measure known as the "unity bill " because it's supported by various factions of the cannabis industry. It now heads to new Gov. Kevin Stitt.

The bill sets up guidelines for inventory testing and tracking, advertising, packaging and labeling, among other things. It also allows employers to fire medical marijuana users in certain "safety-sensitive jobs" who test positive for the drug. Those include firefighters and workers who carry firearms, drive vehicles or operate heavy machinery.

Although the bill sets up regulations, it isn't intended to curb the explosive growth of the medical marijuana industry in Oklahoma.

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Attorney: Man accused in parents' killing 'acutely paranoid'

EDMOND, Okla. (AP) — A 19-year-old Oklahoma man accused in the fatal shooting of his parents is "acutely paranoid and delusional" and a judge should find him incompetent to stand trial, his attorney said.

Eli Walker, whose full name is Michael Elijah Walker, was arrested March 4 after his parents were killed inside their home in north Edmond.

His brother, Isaiah Walker, told law enforcement that Eli Walker said he "shot their parents because they were sending him messages telepathically and they were Satan worshippers," police records show.

Defense lawyer Derek Chance said he will ask a judge to find Walker mentally incompetent once prosecutors have charged him with murder, The Oklahoman reported.

"The family reports Eli has suffered from severe mental illness for several years," Chance said. "I have had an initial assessment done on Eli and it clearly indicates he is acutely paranoid and delusional. This, we believe, explains the horrible tragedy."

Authorities searched Walker's bedroom on Friday and found four homemade explosive devices, a homemade silencer, knives, a Glock semi-automatic pistol, an AR-15 rifle with a laser scope and over 500 rounds of ammunition.

Eli Walker confessed to shooting his parents, according to a court affidavit. He said they had been arguing because he questioned them about Satanism. He said he shot his father in the bedroom and his mother as she fled toward the front door.

Walker stated "he believed he did the right thing," police reported.

If a judge agrees that Walker is mentally inept, his criminal case will be postponed while he receives treatment at the Oklahoma County jail or at a state facility in Vinita.

In rare instances, a murder defendant in Oklahoma has been found not guilty by reason of insanity after a judge or jury determined the person charged was incapable of differentiating right from wrong at the time of the offense.

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