Sentencing Phase Underway For Convicted Murderer William Reece

Tuesday, June 1st 2021, 9:00 pm

The state opened the sentencing phase of William Reece's trial with the four reasons they say the defendant should be sentenced to death.

The state argued those aggravators were Reece's prior convictions for violent felonies, the heinous and cruel murder of Tiffany Johnston, her death was Reece's way to keep her from testifying against him, and they said Reece is a continued threat to society.  

The state's only witness called to testify in this phase was Ryan Johnston, Tiffany's widower. 

His victim impact statement began with him reliving the day Tiffany went missing. Johnston said he came home from work to an empty house. He thought it was odd Tiffany left to meet their friends without him but wasn't alarmed. 

He then recalled how their friends hadn't seen his wife, and his concern grew till he eventually got the call from police that Tiffany's car was abandoned at the Sunshine Carwash in Bethany, Oklahoma. He ended his statement with a list of things he and his late wife never got to experience, like another long weekend, an extended vacation, having kids, or growing old together.

The defense team then got to present their case to save William Reece's life to the jury. 

Their first witness was a neuropsychologist, and an expert in his field, Dr. William Ruwe. 

Ruwe was hired by the defense team to evaluate Reece's mental and emotional capacity. He visited Reece about four times since 2017. After a multitude of tests, Ruwe came to the conclusion that Reece had a borderline intellectual disability. 

He tested just five points above the intellectual disability category. He also diagnosed Reece with PTSD but said he was not able to diagnose him with other mental illnesses. 

Reece's results, in Ruwe's opinion show Reece had antisocial tendencies, had a hard time comprehending direct cause and effect, a low mental processing speed, low impulse control, and dissociative tendencies.  

The defense then called two of Reece's family members to the stand, his stepsister and step aunt. Both were questioned about Reece's mother and his childhood. The women said his mother could be cold, mean, and distant. 

Reece's mom also tried to give Reece to his step-aunt when he was a toddler, she eventually gave his younger brother to that same step-aunt. 

His stepsister said she remembered moving in with Reece's mother after her father and she got married. Reece was around 2 or 3 years old at the time and living in a Baptist children's home.

The sentencing phase will resume Wednesday at 9 a.m.