Oklahoma Election Board purges 91,000 from voter rolls

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Election Board has removed more than 91,000 names from the state's list of registered voters.

Board spokeswoman Misha Mohr said Thursday that the list includes more than 88,000 "inactive" voters who have failed since 2015 to confirm their addresses or vote in any election through the 2018 election cycle.

Mohr said the others are duplicate registrations of voters who match registrations at new addresses.

The inactive voters removed include more than 36,000 registered as Democrats, 31,000 Republicans and nearly 21,000 independents.

Board Secretary Paul Ziriax (ZEER'-ix) said the removal process takes place every two years based on state law. A more stringent law in Ohio was upheld in a June 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Oklahoma and Ohio are among seven states with such laws.


Teen withdraws request to take back plea in teacher's death

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma teenager charged with murder, rape and other felonies following a 2017 string of crimes in Tulsa has withdrawn a request to take back guilty pleas he entered in the case.

Seventeen-year-old Deonte Green pleaded guilty March 13 to first-degree murder and 19 other counts in a blind plea, meaning it was entered without a sentencing agreement with prosecutors.

Attorneys for Green later filed to withdraw the pleas, arguing in part that Green didn't know what the word "guilty" meant. Green withdrew that request during a court hearing Thursday.

Green was 16 when he was accused of killing Broken Arrow middle school teacher Shane Anderson and raping an 81-year-old woman in a separate incident. He faces a possible sentence of life in prison when he's sentenced in July.


Oklahoma court affirms life sentence in crucifix death

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals has affirmed the life sentence of a woman convicted of killing her adult daughter by forcing a crucifix and medallion down her throat because she believed the woman was possessed by the devil.

The appeals court on Thursday upheld the first-degree murder conviction of 52-year-old Juanita Gomez in the 2016 death of 33-year-old Geneva Gomez.

Police found the victim lying inside her mother's Oklahoma City home with her arms spread out as if she had been crucified. A large crucifix had been placed on her chest.

In another case, the court also upheld the first-degree murder conviction and life prison sentence of 27-year-old Revival Pogi, who was convicted of the 2014 stabbing death of 52-year-old Steven Qualls during a robbery in his Oklahoma City home.


Oklahoma Legislature approves ban on taxing plastic bags

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Legislature has approved a bill to prevent cities and towns from imposing a fee on single-use plastic and paper bags and it will now proceed to the governor's office.

The measure aims to bar local governments from prohibiting or taxing "auxiliary containers" used for carrying groceries, carryout and other bought items.

The Oklahoma House passed Sen. James Leewright's proposal Tuesday, the Journal Record reported. The measure was already approved in the Senate. The bill would also forbid local governments from barring or taxing cups, bottles and other types of to-go containers.

The proposed measure came after officials in Norman considered imposing a 5-cent tax on plastic bags in an effort to explore ways to limit a chief source of litter and pollution.

Oklahoma is one of at least five states where lawmakers are considering pre-empting local governments from taxing or banning plastic bags.

Leewright said permitting local governments to impose fees would be a burden on retailers in addition to being expensive for customers.

Jacob Rosecrants, a state representative of Norman, called the bill an "overreach" of state government.

The goal was to establish a "uniform code and not a patchwork" in Oklahoma, said State Rep. Dustin Roberts, who spoke in support the measure before the House.

Norman Mayor-Elect Breea Clark and other local government advocates contend it is an instance of unsolicited interfering by the state Legislature in local matters.

"They need to not pre-empt cities and let us do what we do best, and that is handle these kinds of issues," Oklahoma Municipal League Executive Director Mike Fina said.

The "containers and packaging" category is a primary contributor to the municipal solid waste stream in the U.S., with over 14 million tons worth dumped into public landfills in 2015, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.