Once again I find myself observing a major trial…
Welcome back. Downtown Oklahoma City has all the attractions of a large metropolis and more as I have been learning over the past few days. Professional baseball and basketball both played in beautiful arenas, a boat ride down a lazy river lined with restaurants and entertainment venues, botanical gardens and of course the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. There are also a handful of high rises which are home to corporate giants such as Devon Energy.
Tucked in the middle of all this is the Oklahoma County Courthouse where I have been and will be over the next few weeks. The building itself is small compared to the ones around it but as you can imagine it is quite busy with a steady flow of people coming and going. My destination every morning is the second floor where there are two judges holding court. Full of spectators, the room I’m in has twelve rows of seating for six people in each row. There is a heavy police presence with eight cops inside the courtroom and another half dozen outside. Last Friday I heard the opening statements of Assistant District Attorney Meredith Easter and learned that the case I am following actually began on November 9, 2009 when one man and three women were brutally murdered in Oklahoma City. The man was a well-known drug dealer and two of the three women were pregnant. In all, D.A. Easter filed six counts of first degree murder, four for the adults and two for the unborn children. Even the most seasoned cops found the murders gruesome Easter said, as the victims were hit, stabbed, shot and then their bodies were set on fire. Unfortunately this type of crime may not be all that unusual in the underground world of drug dealing but the national spotlight has been on this particular crime because one of the victims was Brooke Phillips of Moore, OK.
A beautiful twenty-two year old, her life as a stripper and professional prostitute has been reported in detail by the media. According to these stories, Brooke didn’t have any parental support while she was growing up but even as a young girl she was determined to have a better life. Trading on her looks and her ability to connect with people, she started off dancing in men’s clubs and then moved on to the Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Carson City, Nevada where prostitution is legal. She became something of a celebrity after appearing on an HBO reality TV show about the ranch and by all accounts was a real money maker for the owners. All that was nine years ago and now all that remains of her is a small plaque on a stage in Carson City where Brooke danced for customers. A sad story from the get go for this young woman. The media have called the crime the ‘cathouse murders” because of her association with the Moonlite Ranch and it is drawing a lot of publicity.
The death penalty is on the table for accused killers Denny Edward Phillips, 38 of Salina (no relation to Brooke) and Russell Lee Hogshooter of Oklahoma City. Phillips is a known war chief in the Indian Brotherhood Gang and is charged with ordering the killings. It’s a trial I’m sure you’re going to hear a lot more about.
As for me, I’m planning to be in Claremore at the opening ceremonies for the 70th Annual Will Rogers Stampede PRCA Rodeo. Then it’s on to Tulsa on Friday and Saturday for the R&K Gun Show at the Tulsa Fairgrounds.
Till then, I’ll see ya down the road…