I am still following this trial and there have been some dramatic developments…..
Welcome back. This is part two of my coverage of the ongoing six count murder trial of Denny Edward Phillips and Russell Lee Hogshooter in Oklahoma City. Referred to as the “Cathouse Murders” because one of the victims Brooke Phillips worked as a prostitute at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Nevada. Last week’s evidence included graphic photos of the charred remains of the six victims which included two unborn children. Firemen and detectives testified to the severity of the fire which left the remains completely unrecognizable. In all, the state plans on calling about fifty witnesses before they rest their case which means this trial will last awhile.
Comparing this trial to the other high profiles trials I have covered over the past couple of years, it appears that the judicial system is similar in every state. These two men are considered innocent until proven guilty by the twelve jurors. Whenever they are led into the courtroom they are not handcuffed so as not to prejudice the jurors against them. The same procedure was followed at the Whitey Bulger trial in Boston, the American Sniper trial in Texas and the Colorado movie theater shooting trial. In every case the defendants were brought into the courtroom unshackled.
Both Denny Phillips and Russell Hogshooter have two lawyers each defending them. At the state’s table are the two investigating detectives who are testifying and two assistant district attorneys. Assistant D.A. Gayland Geiger is a tall man with a commanding presence and he stuck to the facts as he walked the jury through the gruesome photos of the crime scene.
The other Assistant D.A., Merydith Easter, gave the opening statement and it appeared to me that several jurors were in tears while she was speaking. Looking around I saw several courtroom observers also crying. Easter is a slender woman, about five foot eight or so with shoulder length black hair and the youthful face of a college student. When I first saw her before court started I figured she was an intern, helping the prosecution but I had her all wrong. After looking into her background I discovered she is a graduate of O.U.’s law school and a veteran of several other major murder trials. I also learned that her father is special judge Donald Easter. Merydith Easter is a tough prosecutor and the citizens of Oklahoma can only hope that she will have a long career putting the bad guys where they need to go.
From a spectator’s perspective, Judge Timothy R. Henderson appears to have little trouble keeping his courtroom in order as there have been no outbursts from either the defendants or observers. Hogshooter has sat quietly through the proceedings with very little expression on his face but Phillips talks frequently with his attorneys, often smiling and seeming to be very involved with his defense.
Now that the excitement of the opening few days of testimony are over, the following days of the trial will be dedicated to a tedious review of the many factual details and the crowd has thinned to just a reporter from the Oklahoman and a few others that’s it. Any fast breaking developments will be posted on my website www.originalbuffalodale.com.
Next week I’ll be bringing you some scoop on interesting things to do and places to stay within walking distance of the courtroom. In the meantime I’m back on the road with OU legend Joe Washington as we will be at the Hall of Fame Gun Show in OKC on June 4th and 5th.
Hope to see you there or if not I’ll see ya down the road…..