Stillwater News Press

June 18, 2013

Stillwater murder suspect to stand trial

By Russell Hixson
Stillwater NewsPress

STILLWATER, Okla. — Payne County District Judge Philip Corley has ruled a Stillwater man must stand trial for the first-degree murder of 32-year-old Jeremy Sutherland.

Defense attorneys for Christopher Dawes, 27, of Stillwater, argued the first-degree murder charge didn’t fit the crime which they believe was done in the heat of passion, filings show.

The motion was over-ruled and a jury trial date was set for Oct. 28.

Dawes, of Stillwater, was charged with first-degree murder after Sutherland was beaten to death last October.

The defense and prosecution’s arguments hinged on whether or not Sutherland planned the murder in a calculated fashion or committed the act in a state of passionate anger. According to law, malice aforethought must be proved for first-degree murder charges.

Dawes’ defense filed a plea in abatement and motion to quash and set aside the information. The documents state there was insufficient evidence to file first-degree murder charges as Dawes acted in a heated passion. Dawes had consumed half a pint of vodka and was enraged at seeing his girlfriend making out with Sutherland, the defense argued, citing this as evidence of a crime of passion.

Court records allege Dawes left Sutherland after an initial beating and assaulted his girlfriend. The defense argued this is evidence that Dawes’ passions continued to rise and he returned to Sutherland for another beating. The defense stated Dawes tripped over the body and Sutherland cursed him, resulting in more passion and kicks.

The prosecution argued no particular length of time is required for formation of deliberate intent and it could be formed instantly before the murder. Their response stated Dawes had opportunities to cease the beating and his passions could have cooled when he left Sutherland after the first beating and returned inside to get dressed before the second one.

Corley agreed, over-ruling the defense’s motion.