Over the past seven months, the Oklahoma County grand jury panel opened three hot-button investigations.
Having issued 65 subpoenas Thursday afternoon, the panel released a 65-page final report on alleged misconduct by Oklahoma House of Representatives leadership, alleged wrongdoing by the state Pardon and Parole Board and conditions inside the Oklahoma County Detention Center.
The first led the indictment of former Rep. Terry O’Donnell, R-Catoosa, who served as House Speaker Pro. Tem. O’Donnell and his wife, Teresa O’Donnell, face eight counts in Oklahoma County District Court including conspiracy against the state, perjury, and official misconduct.
O'Donnell claims the accusations against he and his wife are false and the acts of "political operatives" in Oklahoma City.
When it came to the Pardon and Parole Board, the grand jury found the board lacks transparency and objective criteria when it comes to whether a prisoner should receive a commutation. They said that creates distrust among the public.
The board also pointed to the case of Laurence Anderson, who has been used in campaign ads critical of Gov. Kevin Stitt. He had been sentenced to nine years in 2017 for a probation violation relating to a drug case.
In 2021, Anderson was granted clemency and released from prison. After his release, he allegedly brutally murdered three people, including a child, ripping out one victim’s heart and attempting to cook it.
The grand jury said he had already been denied commutation seven months prior to his 2021 application due to his risk to re-offend and that he shouldn't have been eligible for reconsideration so soon.
"It appears that these three deaths could have been avoided, had the Board Rules and the applicable law been followed," the grand jury wrote.
The panel said it heard evidence related to four other murders allegedly committed by inmates released during the "commutation push.”
"The failure of the Board to ensure that safeguards were followed has a huge impact on public safety, as shown by just the murders that are alleged to have been committed by some of those release," the grand jury wrote.
The Grand Jury said testimony from Pardon and Parole Board employees revealed since early 2019 there has been a "rush to get more and more people out of prison."
The panel also called into question closed door meetings between Stitt and soon-to-be board members to discuss how they would vote in upcoming hearings. The grand jury called the meetings "grossly improper” and “clearly violates the spirit of the Open Meetings Act.”
The Grand Jury made a total of 25 recommendations concerning the Pardon and Parole Board.
On the topic of operations inside the Oklahoma County Detention Center, the Oklahoma County Grand Jury found, after the recusal of Oklahoma County district attorney David Prater, the State Multicounty Grand Jury should investigate operations of the facility.
“There is not sufficient time remaining for this grand jury to accomplish an adequate investigation of the Oklahoma County jail. Accordingly, we respectfully defer to the State Multicounty Grand Jury,” the findings stated.