Oklahoma jury recommends death sentence for serial killer

Oklahoma jury recommends death sentence for serial killer
 AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File
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On Wednesday, a jury in Oklahoma recommended the death penalty for William Lewis Reece, who was convicted of kidnapping a woman from a car wash and murdering her in 1997.

Reece, an alleged serial killer, was convicted in May of first-degree murder for the kidnapping and killing of 19-year-old Tiffany Johnson. He is expected to be formally sentenced on Aug. 19.

During the trial, the jury heard recordings of Reece’s confessions to police, in which he admitted to killing the 19-year-old and three others in Texas, including a child. The convicted murderer did not testify at the trial.

The Oklahoman reported that in addition to Johnson, 17-year-old Kelli Cox, 17-year-old Jessica Cain, and 12-year-old Laura Smither went missing over a four-month period in 1997. Their disappearances coincided with Reece’s release from an Oklahoma state prison for previous rape and kidnapping convictions.

Smither’s body was discovered shortly after her disappearance, but the remains of the two other women were not found until 2016, when Reece began cooperating with authorities.

The Associated Press reports that Reece’s defense attorney, Jacob Benedict, did not dispute that Reece killed Johnson, but argued that he only confessed to the murder because a Texas Ranger promised him that prosecutors wouldn’t seek the death penalty.

“A promise he couldn’t keep, but still a promise,” Benedict reportedly said.

Gay Smither, the mother of the 12-year-old Laura Smither who traveled to Oklahoma for the trial, told reporters that she would be content if Reece faced the death penalty in Oklahoma even if he did not see his day in court in Texas, where he awaits a trial over the death of the 12-year-old.

“If we don’t have our day in court in Galveston, we can live with it because he’s at least held accountable here,” she told Houston-based station KPRC. “The most important thing is we know now for sure there is absolutely no way this man will ever get out.”

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