STILLWATER – The first assistant district attorney in Payne County is facing a felony charge of larceny from a house after his ex-wife told Edmond police officers she wanted to prosecute over a $30 set of jack stands he took from her residence.
"I am aware criminal charges have been filed against my First Assistant District Attorney, Kevin Etherington, by Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater," Laura Austin Thomas, the Payne County District Attorney, told the News Press in a statement. "This appears to stem from a post-divorce property dispute wherein his former wife is both the complaining witness and a current attorney for Prater's office.
"Mr. Etherington is a former employee of Prater's office. Mr. Etherington will continue to serve the citizens of our counties as this charge makes its way through the criminal justice system, and I will monitor its progress."
Etherington is accused of taking the jack stand from his ex-wife Aaron Etherington's house on Jan. 4 in Edmond, where he was dropping off the couple's 9-year-old daughter. According to the affidavit, his daughter let him into the home, and the ex-wife told police she noticed some things in the house "were different and out of place."
This led her to look at her surveillance footage. She noticed he went into the garage and took a set of jack stands. According to police, when she texted him about it, he admitted to taking the stands and asked whether he needed to bring them back. A report from Edmond Police Department says the divorce was finalized in July 2016, and Etherington's ex-wife wanted to bring charges against him.
"This charge was the result of me reclaiming property that was rightfully my own," Etherington told the News Press in a statement. "This is a property dispute that has arisen from a divorce and should have been handled as such. Once the truth comes out it will be obvious that a civil issue was transformed into a felony charge.
"It is my intent to fight this accusation to the fullest extent possible."
Norman attorney Zach Simmons said he rarely charged people with larceny from a house during the seven years he was an assistant district attorney.
It is a felony theft charge that doesn’t require the items in question to have a certain value and doesn’t require the person to have used some type of force to break into the house. However, it only applies if the person entered the home unlawfully or they weren’t allowed to enter. It couldn’t be used in cases where houseguests stole from their hosts and it requires the person to have taken something they believed belongs to someone else.
“The time I most commonly saw it was because someone left their garage door open and a person walking by entered the garage and took their golf clubs or something,” he said.
Being convicted of any felony could potentially lead to an attorney being disbarred, although that isn’t necessarily the case. Simmons said he knows of attorneys with felony convictions who are still practicing law.
The News Press made calls to the Oklahoma County District Attorney's office which were not returned.
Ahrens is a reporter for the Stillwater News Press. News Press reporter Michelle Charles contributed to this article.