The Norman Transcript


November 5, 2013

Plea avoids trial

NORMAN — A Purcell man pleaded out Tuesday before a jury was selected for a first-degree murder trial in Cleveland County District Court.

Richard Dean Lansdale, 38, was charged in 2012 conjointly with Russell Lee Blackwood for the murder of Gary Norton Sr., 55, of Lexington. Lansdale made an Alford plea Tuesday morning, taking the District Attorney’s offer of life in prison with the possibility of parole.

The legal definition of an Alford plea is when “the criminal defendant does not admit the act but admits that the prosecution could likely prove the charge. The court will pronounce the defendant guilty,” according to, an online legal dictionary.

Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Austin, who previously led the prosecution of Blackwood, said Lansdale will be more than 75 years old when he’s eligible for parole, which they felt will sufficiently protect the community.

“I think it’s the best way to give this family some peace,” Austin said.

Lansdale also had been charged with possession of a firearm after a former felony conviction, but the charge was dismissed when he pleaded out, Austin said.

Blackwood, 41, was found guilty by a Cleveland County jury in September. The jury suggested a sentence of life in prison without parole and his charge for possession of a firearm after a former felony conviction was dropped as well.

A formal sentencing for Blackwood is scheduled for Nov. 20 by District Judge Tracy Schumacher.

Austin said before Blackwood’s jury trial, the state also offered him a sentence of life in prison with parole. The Norton family wanted prosecutor’s to offer Lansdale the same sentence, she said.

“They felt like Russell Blackwood was the one that was more responsible and they didn’t want to go through another trial,” Austin said. “They’re very happy — happy to have it over, to have some closure and be able to move on.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Bridge Businesses try to survive while bridge is closed

    Ray Cole wonders every day if his business will have to close. Cole is one of many Lexington and Purcell business owners struggling financially since the 76-year-old James C. Nance Memorial Bridge closed Jan. 31. The Oklahoma Department ...

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Storm scavengers now could face felony charges

    OKLAHOMA CITY— It wasn’t long after a devastating tornado hit Moore last year that scavengers were circling the wreckage. Already reeling, Moore residents had a new concern — fending off looters....

    April 15, 2014

  • Norman teachers excited about professional development

    Norman Public Schools’ teachers are focused on students and want to take advantage of professional development, Beth Spears, director of Staff Development and Student Achievement, said was the overall response teachers had to a recent ...

    April 15, 2014

  • Social justice dialogue part of University of Oklahoma program

    The University of Oklahoma kicked off Justice Week with a public forum Monday titled “Luis Rodriguez: No en Vano.” Critically acclaimed author, Esmeralda Santiago discussed the “Transformative Power of Art,” while joining five panelists ...

    April 15, 2014

  • Oklahoma’s 8-month streak without tornado falls

    TULSA — After Oklahoma’s eight-month streak without a tornado was snapped this weekend by a pair of suspected twisters, the state’s wild weather jag continued into Monday, with blowing snow from the Panhandle to Tulsa and freezing ...

    April 15, 2014

  • County hears presentation on employment opportunities

    The Cleveland County Board of Commissioners listened to a presentation Monday to consider partnering with a nonprofit that provides employment opportunities for prison inmates re-entering the community. Patrick Viklund, Center for ...

    April 15, 2014

  • 4 now charged in college player’s death

    OKLAHOMA CITY — A fourth person was charged Monday in the death of an Australian baseball player who was fatally shot as he jogged in a southern Oklahoma neighborhood last summer....

    April 15, 2014

  • Questions linger year after bombs

    BOSTON — A surveillance video shows a man prosecutors say is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev placing a bomb near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, just yards from where an 8-year-old boy was killed when it exploded....

    April 15, 2014

  • Fallin signs minimum wage increase ban

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Cities across Oklahoma are now prohibited from establishing mandatory minimum wage or vacation and sick-day requirements under a bill signed into law Monday by Gov. Mary Fallin....

    April 15, 2014

  • Police log

    Police responded to the following incidents Sunday: · 12:03 a.m. vandalism, 100 block of 12th Avenue Southeast · 6:42 a.m. burglary report, 300 block of 12th Avenue Southeast · 9:21 a.m. vandalism, 1500 block of North ...

    April 15, 2014