Earl Oswalt Jr., appeared in court Friday afternoon for a motion hearing.
Just weeks before his trial date, Oswalt's defense attorney Jarrod Stevenson filed a motion to suppress three interviews conducted while Oswalt was in custody.
The reason behind the hearing was the defense alleged the statements Oswalt made while in custody were coerced in some way.
Assistant District Attorney Kevin Etherington called the first witness for the state, Agent Michael Dean with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
Dean interviewed Oswalt at the Payne County Sheriff’s Office on June 3, 2019.
Dean told the court he didn’t think Oswalt was under the influence of drugs or alcohol during the interview, and he was read his Miranda Rights.
Etherington asked Dean if Oswalt ever mentioned wanting a lawyer, or if he should get a lawyer.
At no time during the interview did Oswalt ask about obtaining a lawyer, Dean said.
Stevenson cross-examined Dean, and insinuated Dean had coerced Oswalt into making statements he wouldn’t have made otherwise.
Dean didn’t remember the exact statements he made during the interview, he said, but he never disputed the statements when asked by Stevenson.
“At 9:27 exact you tell Oswalt the truth can set you free,” Stevenson asked Dean.
Dean didn’t dispute that statement, either.
During the hearing it was said several times that Dean told Oswalt he could “help him” which is what Stevenson referred to as coercion.
Stevenson said Oswalt asked Dean several times during the interview how the truth could help him.
The defense also alleged that Dean said if the death of Chelsey Chaffin was an accident, then Oswalt couldn’t be hurt by telling officers the truth.
Dean told the court that Oswalt originally told them a story that depicted the incident as accidental.
Payne County Sheriff's Office Investigator Rockford Brown with the was called as the next witness for the state.
Brown conducted two of the interviews in question while Dean conducted one.
Brown also told the court he didn’t believe Oswalt was under the influence June 3, as he conducted a buccal swab that same day.
Brown interviewed Oswalt on June 4 and June 6.
Oswalt wasn’t read his Miranda Rights for either interview Brown conducted, because Oswalt previously waived it at the first interview with Dean.
The June 6 interview was allegedly requested by Oswalt through the jail staff.
Stevenson cross examined Brown next.
The defense alleged Brown yelled and screamed at Oswalt during the second interview.
Stevenson told the court he had a difficult time getting through the interview of Oswalt and Brown.
Brown told the court they had “elevated voices” during the interview.
The last witness called was Oswalt by the Defense.
Stevenson called Oswalt to tell the court his understanding of the interviews.
Oswalt told the court the statements Dean made during the interview, made him think his girlfriend was arrested.
Stevenson asked Oswalt how he felt when Dean made those comments.
“That he would actually help me,” Oswalt said.
Stevenson told the court many times how Oswalt felt during all three interviews, and how he thought he would be helped.
When Oswalt was asked how he thought Dean would help him he said, “I don’t know.”
Oswalt told the court he would have stuck with the original version of his story if Dean hadn’t made the statements he did.
Stevenson asked Oswalt if he felt intimidated during the interview with Brown.
His response was, “yes sir I did.”
Etherington cross-examined Oswalt.
The state alleged Oswalt was helped by the state not seeking first degree murder, which could have sought the death penalty.
Oswalt made statements Friday about not remembering things from those June interviews.
Etherington alleged Oswalt didn’t know how he felt.
Oswalt agreed saying he wasn’t sure how he felt then.
Ultimately Judge Stephen Kistler denied the defenses’ motion to suppress and found Oswalt competent during the interviews, because of his previous criminal history.
“They weren’t the product of coercion,” Kistler said.
Oswalt will appear in court Oct. 20 for a further pretrial.