By Russell Hixson
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Witnesses recalled the October night Jeremy Sutherland died as the preliminary hearing for Christopher Dawes started Thursday in the Payne County Courthouse.
The hearing was continued until March 11.
Dawes, 26, is charged with first-degree murder and domestic abuse by strangulation. The charges stem from a night of drinking that resulted in the fatal beating of Sutherland, 32. The incident happened on Oct. 27.
Dawes appeared from the Payne County jail in an orange jumpsuit with his red hair shaved on the sides and in the back.
The court heard statements from police, Dawes’ mother and a woman who was with Sutherland and Dawes the night of the incident.
Jasmine Lewis was questioned by attorneys about how much the three drank that October night and the events that led up to Sutherland’s death. Lewis said the three had been drinking vodka from a bottle in a small shed in which she and Dawes were living.
Lewis testified after Dawes passed out, Sutherland began kissing her lips and neck. She did not invite the contact but did not verbally or physically try to stop it. She told the court that Dawes sat up and saw them kissing. He wouldn’t listen to her explanations and the attacks began.
Lewis said when Dawes was beating Sutherland, she saw Sutherland begin to have seizures but did not immediately try to get help.
At this point in the hearing, Sutherland’s mother, Della, stormed out of the courtroom, loudly thumping the door open on her way out. She was warned in the hall that any more outbursts and she could be punished by the court.
“That was my baby,” she said after the hearing.
Della Sutherland expressed extreme frustration about having to wait for the case to proceed through the court system.
“Justice has to be done,” she said.
Dollie Berg was engaged to Sutherland and the two planned to get married in August. Berg also expressed frustration with the slow pace of court proceedings.
A medical examiner’s report that was entered into the court record Thursday shed light on his injuries. The report listed the death as a homicide by multiple blunt force trauma to the head and torso. His injuries included 11 fractured ribs, internal bleeding, broken nose and brain swelling.