New search for 16-year-old Oklahoma girls missing since 1999

WELCH, Okla. (AP) — Authorities in Oklahoma are starting a new search for two 16-year-old girls missing and presumed dead for nearly 20 years.

Craig County District Attorney's spokeswoman Michelle Lowry says the search for Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible will begin Tuesday near the Picher area, about 85 miles (137 kilometers) northeast of Tulsa and where authorities have said the girls' bodies are believed to have been dumped.

The girls disappeared Dec. 30, 1999, from Freeman's home in nearby Welch. Freeman's parents, Danny and Kathy Freeman, were found fatally shot in the burned home.

In April 2018, authorities charged 68-year-old Ronnie Dean Busick with four counts of first-degree murder in the case and said two other suspects are dead.

Busick has denied involvement in the case and is undergoing a mental competency evaluation.

Oklahoma court to rule on appeal of ex-cop convicted of rape

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals says it will issue an opinion this week in an appeal filed by a former Oklahoma City police officer convicted of rape and other sexual assaults.

The court says it will issue an opinion Thursday in the case of 32-year-old Daniel Holtzclaw, who is appealing his 18 convictions and 263-year prison sentence. Holtzclaw was accused of preying on black women he encountered while on duty.

Holtzclaw has maintained his innocence and is challenging the evidence used to convict him, as well as a "circus atmosphere" of attention during his 2015 trial.

Questions about DNA evidence were kept under seal by the court for 17 months because of personnel records that are confidential under Oklahoma law.

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Oklahoma man dies near campground in northern Arkansas

JASPER, Ark. (AP) — The National Park Service says an Oklahoma man has died while visiting the Buffalo National River in northern Arkansas.

Officers say 54-year-old Troy Roderick of Cushing, Oklahoma, died Saturday after falling from the tailgate of a pickup truck on which he was riding. Officials say Roderick had been at a swimming area along the Buffalo River near the Ozark campground, and fell from the truck that was returning to his campsite.

Roderick was taken to a hospital in Harrison where he was pronounced dead.

The park service cautioned visitors to not ride on any portion of a vehicle that's not designated for passengers, even at slow speeds.

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November trial set for man accused in stabbing death

POCOLA, Okla. (AP) — A judge in eastern Oklahoma has scheduled a November trial date for an Arkansas man accused of killing his girlfriend with a lawnmower blade last year.

Steven Wayne Asher of Hackett, Arkansas, is charged with first-degree murder in the Aug. 27, 2018, stabbing death of Amanda Millar. He has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

According to the Southwest Times-Record in Fort Smith, Arkansas, prosecutors allege that Asher hit Millar multiple times with the blade and cut her neck while they were standing in the front yard of a home in the eastern Oklahoma town of Pocola.

Asher is also charged with assault and battery after authorities said he hit two people who'd tried to intervene.

Asher's trial is scheduled for the week of Nov. 4 in Le Flore County.