Nathan LeForce is facing three charges, including first degree murder. If found guilty, jurors can deliver the death sentence, life without the possibility of parole or life with the possibility of parole. Related article: Final pre-trial for Leforce heard; trial set for Aug. 6
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Day 12 (Thursday, August 22): It was an emotional day inside the courtroom on Thursday as jurors heard from Deputy David Wade’s family. In addition, the remaining of the body cam video was seen by jurors.
Earlier in the week, a jury found Nathan LeForce guilty of first-degree murder for the shooting death of Deputy Wade.
Now in the punishment stage, including the death penalty, jurors will decide the fate of LeForce.
“You took a good person from us,” the grandmother of Wade said in a letter to the jury.
Deputy Wade’s only brother read his typed out letter despite having to pause multiple times as emotion took over.
He read that he was “shaken” to his core.
Wade’s brother described having to retrieve the belongings from Deputy Wade’s squad car. He says he “wash the blood from his brother’s firearm, the one he used to try and protect himself” so that he could bury it along his brother.
As the brother read the letter, one juror could be seen wiping tears while another jury was unable to look at the brother sitting in the witness chair.
Wade’s mother took the stand next. She read “the hole in my heart will never heal. A piece of its gone.”
She talked about her sons serving the military over seas, but never thought they would ever die on American soil.
“Never would I think that it would be on American soil that my son’s life would be taken.”
She finished her letter by saying, “Live on my son. Live on 221.”
LeForce was seen looking down, with emotion on his face, wiping his eyes and sniffing.
The body cam video picked up after LeForce shot Wade and drove away in the deputy’s truck.
With Wade surrounded by people rendering aid, you can hear the deputy relaying information to fellow officers and dispatch despite being shot in the face.
One person can be heard praying over Wade by saying, “please keep him safe Lord.”
LeForce’s mother spent most of the day on the witness stand as she described Nathan’s childhood.
Portions of letters that Nathan wrote in jail to his mother were read to the jury.
Among some of the things he shared were “I’ve lost my dream” and “only God knows why this happened.”
He said that he “could now die in peace.”
As the letters were read, Nathan LeForce was emotional.
LeForce’s mother – with tears and a shaken voice – told the jurors that she has asked LeForce’s attorneys if she could be there to hold Nathan’s hand if they lethally injected him.
“I would give my life in his place.”
Court is expected to resume on Monday morning.
Day 11 (Wednesday, August 21): Jurors give Nathan LeForce 30 years on the larceny charge and 37 years on the armed robbery charge.
The punishment range for the larceny charge ranged from 9 years to life, while the armed robbery charge ranged from 20 years to life.
Testimony on punishment for murder charge is set to begin.
The defense team has lined up 28 witnesses on behalf of LeForce to testify.
Testimony for murder punishment expected to be heard Wednesday, Thursday, Monday and Tuesday.
Defense has 28 witnesses lined up. State has around 4-6 witnesses, including family impact statements.
One juror was asked to cancel flight to west coast due to the length of the trial. Juror was wanting to be with family with the birth of a baby.
Day 10 (Tuesday, August 20): Leforce found guilty of first degree murder; now faces the death penalty
Day 9 (Monday, August 19): It was the second day for the defense to call witnesses to the stand. Once again, the defense brought six witnesses to the stand.
The first witness took up the entire morning session as a female testified Nathan Leforce kidnapped her in 2015 and at times believed he was going to rape and kill her. She later dropped the kidnapping charge.
LaToria Gardner said she recalls seeing a black semi-automatic gun in Leforce’s truck.
She says Leforce’s demeanor took a “drastic” turn after he was injected with meth and that he had a “blank stare.”
An Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics agent and former Perry Police Department assistant chief told jurors Leforce told them there was going to be a shoot out as he was tired of being harassed by the police department. The incident happened during a 2016 traffic stop.
The agent said he sent out an urgent message out to all nearby law agencies alerting them to be cautious if they were to encounter Leforce. Leforce was never charged for the threats.
A lab technician from Mercy Hospital Logan County, reading from a report, said meth was found in Leforce’s system on the day of the shooting.
A doctor, who has worked with patients for 30 years, testified Leforce suffered from a substance abuse disorder. However, District Attorney Laura Austin Thomas elaborated several times that the doctor interviewed Leforce for only 35 minutes this past July.
The doctor testifed that Leforce met 10 of the 12 criteria steps to be considered to have a severe stimulant disorder.
Thomas argued that Leforce appeared to have some mental capacity and was “planning and strategic.” She explained after shooting the deputy, he knew not to drive on the main roads, park behind the gas station, rob a woman’s vehicle at gun point, drive the back roads once again and then hide in a shed.
The defense is expected to call at least one more witness on Tuesday. Closing arguments is expected to happen soon after.
Day 8 (Thursday, August 15): Day four of testimony saw the defense begin building their case as they brought six witnesses to the stand.
Most of the question and answer sessions revolved around Nathan Leforce’s drug addiction ramping up after his children were removed from his custody by the Department of Human Resources in January 2017. Just four months before the deadly shooting of Deputy David Wade.
Before jurors were brought into the courtroom, the teams of attorneys argued on whether certain witnesses could testify in phase one of the trial.
Phase one determines guilt or innocence. Phase two, if a guilty verdict is returned, begins phase two with sentencing.
District Attorney Laura Austin Thomas argued that the suggested defense witnesses had no evidence about the shooting and other crimes that took place on April 18, 2017. Meanwhile, lead defense attorney Gretchen Wilson argued their witnesses would show the results of Leforce problems with the removal of his kids and the increase of using methamphetamine.
Judge Phillip Corley informed the defense attorney’s that allowing the witnesses to testify in phase one could “open doors” in testimony being heard. The attorneys agreed to continue, but the judge asked Leforce if he was willing for his attorneys to proceed. Leforce, who was standing up, said, “yes sir, I do” in a quiet tone.
A former Perry police officer testified he had “numerous” incidents involving Leforce.
Defense attorney Gregg Graves asked the officer if Leforce was a “loud mouth with a bad temper?” The officer responded, “not to me.”
A pastor and a Celebrate Recovery minister both said Leforce was working to better himself and was involved with the church.
“He was trying to get to a better place. It just didn’t take,” the minister said. Leforce showed emotions as he wiped tears from both of his eyes with a tissue with the minister’s words.
Leforce’s former attorney and friend, John Donovan, testified he had represented Leforce in the past and the two had become close.
He recalled Leforce calling him the morning of the shooting as he questioned Donovan on buying wagon wheels. Donovan said Leforce was rambling incoherently and blew him off. He became emotional as his voice began to tremble and said “If I would of …..” as if he could have prevented the shooting if he acted differently.
The case was recessed for the day and will resume on Monday morning.
Day 7 (Wednesday, August 14): The District Attorney’s Office called five witnesses to the stand and afterwards rested their case in phase one of the trial. The defense is now expected to begin calling their first witnesses on Thursday morning.
The first witness called on Wednesday was the home and property owner where Nathan Leforce was found hiding from police.
She says she found her vehicle damaged near the steering console and the glove box ransacked.
The next four witness were law enforcement officers and they spoke about the apprehension of Leforce from a shed behind a home on Jackson Road.
Two Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations special agents talked about the evidence collected at the various scenes.
The most interesting piece of evidence jurors saw today was the uniform and ballistic vest that Wade was wearing at the time of the shooting.
Jurors were excused early for the day at 2:52 p.m.
Outside the courtroom, District Attorney Laura Austin Thomas filed a motion for admonishment of Leforce and his legal team. Related article: DA’s Office accuses Leforce of intimidating a witness
Day 6 (Tuesday, August 13): For the first time in the murder trial of Nathan Leforce, jurors were shown Deputy David Wade’s body cam video.
Before the video played, Judge Phillip Corley informed the gallery that he would not tolerate any emotions or out burst during the video. He asked if anyone could not obey those commands to leave the courtroom. Three members of the Wade family left prior to the video.
The video begins with Wade arriving to the Mulhall home in his patrol truck. He walks to the home and begins to speak with John Lute, Christine Lute and Leforce. The deputy takes their information and relays its over his police radio to dispatch.
Wade returns to his truck and speaks with dispatch and Deputy Paul Martin, who was responding to assist.
As Wade begins to walk back to the home, Leforce begins to walk toward Wade, points a gun and shoots the deputy in the face. The deputy is shot three more times while on the ground.
Leforce is seen speeding away in the deputy’s truck. After the truck leaves the video was stopped by the state attorney.
As the shooting portion played out, Leforce and his lead attorney showed emotions.
Attorney Gretchen Mosley, seated to Leforce’s right, was seen looking down and taking deep breaths following the shooting that revealed blood on the deputy’s hands and on the grass.
Leforce’s upper cheeks and forehead became red as he looked down. On Leforce’s left side was a member of the defense team, who pulled out a tissue and placed it on the desk in front of Leforce. The man facing first degree murder wiped a tear from his left eye as he took deep breaths. At the same time, Mosley placed her hand on Leforce’s lap to show comfort.
After the video was stopped, Wade’s younger brother swiftly walked out of the courtroom. He returned a short time later.
A total of eight people took the witness stand, including Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations (OSBI) Forensic Analysis Alan Solomon, Charnae Bottley, OSBI Special Agent Lynda Stevens, former Guthrie EMS paramedic Justin McCaughey, Air Evac Nurse Drew Lancaster, Dr. Bill Worden, Medical Examiner Marc Harrison and Oklahoma County Sheriff Captain Jason Ruegge.
Bottley told jurors “I did not know if that was the end for me” as Leforce pointed a gun inside her 2010 Mazda 3 at Smitty’s gas station minutes after Wade had been shot.
Video surveillance showed Leforce arriving at the gas station in the marked sheriff’s patrol unit taken from the shooting scene. The footage later revealed Leforce pointing a gun inside Bottley’s car. Bottley said she did not hear Leforce say anything as she got out the car and ran for safety. Leforce got into the moving car and drove away.
Harrison, the medical examiner, said Wade had been shot a total of four times and that the first shot fired to the upper right lip down the body was a “very serious wound.” Fragments from the bullets traveled from the trachea to the heart and to the abdomen.
The cause of death was determined to be multiple gunshot wounds and ruled as a homicide.
Majority of the afternoon’s testimony came from health officials who treated Wade.
McCaughey, Lancaster and Worden described to jurors the procedures they did in attempt to stabilize Wade so that he can be air flown from the scene to Oklahoma City.
Worden, who drove to the scene from Crescent, explained in order for Wade to be air flown his air flow passage needed to be clear with a breathing tube due to the heavy bleeding. After three unsuccessful attempts to insert a breathing tube, the paramedics were able to insert a tube and Wade was transported to OU Medical Center.
Defense attorney Gregg Graves asked the medical examiner if the unsuccessful attempts of adding a tube may have cause the bullet fragments to travel further down Wade’s body and cause additional damage to Wade. The examiner said he did not find any evidence to support that cause.
A heart surgeon in the operating room ruled the damage to Wade’s heart was not a survivable wound. Wade was pronounced dead about a hour after arriving to the hospital.
Day 5 (Monday, Aug. 12): Afternoon session: The afternoon session saw the State call three witnesses to the stand, including LCSO Deputy Paul Martin and Undersheriff Troy Dykes.
Christine Lute, the wife of John Lute, was the first witness called and testified she was inside her home packing when she heard what sounded like fireworks from outside.
She testified she walked outside and saw that Deputy Wade had been shot and Leforce leaving in his marked patrol unit.
Lute said her and her husband went to Wade to render aid, but that he stopped them at gunpoint until he realized he was there to assist him.
She added Leforce was not acting irrational before the shooting and had no knowledge of meth use by Leforce.
Deputy Martin, who was the first law enforcement officer to arrive to the scene, told jurors he knew Wade for some time as they both went to Guthrie High School.
“He was a great officer. Easy to get along with. He was a hard worker.”
District Attorney Laura Austin Thomas asked Martin to open a brown paper sack. Inside was the body cam worn by Wade. Martin showed jurors how a body cam is worn by an officer.
Thomas next handed Martin a picture frame of Wade. Each juror was able to hold and looked at the picture before passing it to the next juror.
Undersheriff Dykes played the fleet tracking video of Wade’s patrol unit. The video showed the truck arriving to the home, leaving the home on the back roads before coming to a stop at Smitty’s gas station.
Outside the presence of the jury, despite opposition from the defense, District Judge Phillip Corley ruled the 15-minute body cam can not only be seen but also can be slowed down and screen shots can be taken from the body cam.
The defense team pleaded by slowing down the video it would distort the time and that it becomes accumulative for jurors.
The judge reminded the defense attorneys that all evidence, including the video, can be examined by jurors once they began to deliberate the case.
Morning Session: The first day of testimony took a turn for one person just before the lunch break.
The 12 jurors and two alternate jurors heard opening statements from both the State and the defense teams.
The State’s first witness was the homeowner of the home where the shooting took place. The other witness heard Monday morning was John Lute, who was being evicted by the homeowner at the time of the shooting.
After cross examination, the defense lead attorney Gretchen Mosley asked 47-year-old Lute if he knew about a bench warrant for his arrest in Payne County.
Lute, who appeared to be stunned by the question, said he was unaware of the warrant and that he went to the Payne County Courthouse in June and was not told or that he was aware of the warrant.
The warrant was issued on June 7 by District Judge Phillip Corley, who is presiding over the case against Leforce.
Mosley asked Lute if he felt he had to give answers in favor of the state since Laura Austin Thomas (and her assistants) is also the district attorney in Payne County. Lute responded by saying, “no.”
After jurors were excused for lunch, Lute was taken to the Logan County Jail by the courtroom deputies.
Assistant District Attorney Kevin Etherington started the morning by given the State’s opening statements and also questioning both witnesses.
Etherington showed jurors a poster board of the timeline and scenes of the case, including the home in Mulhall where Deputy David Wade was shot, Smitty’s gas station where Leforce stole a vehicle and the shed where he was found hiding.
Mosley told jurors in her opening statement, that Leforce slid back into drugs after three of his four children where taken from his home and custody by the Department of Human Services four months before the shooting.
The only time Leforce showed in any emotions was when Mosley spoke of his children. His pale face became red as he appeared to be holding back his emotions by taking deep breaths.
Mosley said Leforce started to use meth to die after losing his kids, job and home.
She finished her comments by saying Leforce injected meth the night before the shooting and then again the morning of the shooting “way beyond the night before.”
The defense is expected to call an expert witness to show Leforce may have suffered from meth-induced psychosis, which is associated with paranoia, delusions and volatile behavior.
Mosley said Leforce was “not in reality” at the time of the shooting due to his meth use and that he has no memory of anything that he did. She recalls him saying I killed someone’s daddy. As Mosley told jurors, Leforce glanced at the Wade family sitting on the opposite side of Leforce.
The attorney finished by telling jurors that Leforce should be punished for his actions, but asked them to return a guilty verdict of second degree murder.
The homeowner was the first to testify. She says before the shooting, Leforce was friendly, calm and normal and that “it made no sense” as to why he reacted the way he did.
Lute described Leforce as nice, friendly and helpful before the shooting.
The homeowner told Lute (with Leforce nearby) that she was calling the police to come to the home. Lute says he went back into the home afterwards and saw Leforce in the driveway by himself “yelling out at nobody” as he threw his hands up in the air as if he was upset about the situation. Deputy Wade arrived 15-20 minutes later.
Day 4 (Friday, Aug. 9): Before the noon break, a jury was set in the case. In total, seven men and five women will sit on the jury.
In the afternoon session, two alternates will be selected in case a juror in the box is unable to continue.
The trial will be completed in two phases. In phase one, the jury will determine either a guilty or not guilty verdict.
If found guilty of first degree murder, phase two will determine sentencing, including death, life without the possibility of parole, or life with parole.
Opening arguments are expected to begin on Monday.
Day 3 (Thursday, Aug. 8) : Thursday proved to be the busiest day inside the courtroom as 16 possible jurors were excused from the case.
In total, the judge excused seven jurors for cause, while the defense team removed five and the State with four.
The judge excused some due to some too partial to the death penalty, while others were family, vacation and school.
Most of the questions coming from both attorneys are in regards to the death penalty.
Each juror is asked by District Attorney Laura Austin Thomas “what is the toughest decision you have ever had to make and how do you make that decision.”
Meanwhile, lead defense attorney Gretchen Mosley was often heard saying “life giver” when talking to jurors.
Nathan LeForce has said very few words throughout the days, except occasionally to his team of lawyers.
The routine for the days as been starting court at 9 a.m. and taking a break at 10:30. The court then runs from 10:45 to noon. The afternoon session begins at 1:30 p.m. and goes until 3 p.m. for a break. The court resumes at 3:15 p.m. and ends anywhere between 4:30 – 5 p.m.
Day 2 (Wednesday, Aug. 7) : The morning session saw two new perspective jurors called into the box for in-depth questioning from the state and defense attorneys.
The state excused their first juror Wednesday morning at 10:15 by dismissing a white female.
At 11:47 a.m., the defense team excused their first juror by dismissing a white male.
The afternoon session saw three jurors excused from the trial.
The state excused two white females, while the defense excused a white male.
The judge also excused a white male after being questioned on being a fair juror for both sides of the case.
Reminder: Both sides can excuse nine jurors each.
Day 1 (Tuesday, Aug. 6) : The jury selection for a man seen shooting and killing a Logan County deputy in 2017 began Tuesday morning.
In total, 146 jurors reported Monday for juror orientation with 15 being excused from the pool.
District Judge Phillip Corley, along with the state and the defense teams, agreed to bring 30 perspective jurors on Tuesday, an additional 30 on Wednesday and 30 more on Thursday in hopes of seating a juror of 12.
Prior to the start of jury questioning, three people were excused from the judge.
District Attorney Laura Austin Thomas and the defense lead attorney Gretchen Mosley drilled jurors with specific questions, including topics on media coverage, addiction and the death penalty.
The first and only juror to be excused on Tuesday came at the end of the day when the judge excused a white male after speaking with both teams of attorneys.
Each team of attorneys will be allowed to excuse nine jurors each. The judge is allowed to excuse an unlimited number of jurors based on cause.
The court recessed at 4:45 p.m.