The Norman Transcript

State/Region

July 5, 2014

Death penalty off table for triple murder

OKEMAH — A man accused of fatally shooting two Oklahoma girls then killing his fiancee three years later no longer faces the death penalty after he agreed to waive his right to a jury trial.

Kevin Sweat is accused of killing 11-year-old Skyla Whitaker and 13-year-old Taylor Paschal-Placker as the girls walked down a road in rural Oklahoma in 2008. But he wasn’t suspected in their deaths until police questioned him in the 2011 slaying of his fiancee, Ashley Taylor.

He has pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree murder.

Defense attorney Peter Astor told the Tulsa World that Sweat waived his right to a jury trial Thursday in exchange for prosecutors not seeking the death penalty.

Earlier this year, Judge Lawrence Parish ruled that prosecutors could introduce as evidence a videotaped interview with state investigators in which Sweat said he shot the two young girls because he thought they were “monsters” coming at him.

Sweat’s attorneys had argued that Sweat wasn’t mentally competent when he waived his Miranda rights before participating in the interview.

“I see demons, vampires ... monsters, demons, whatever. I do have some problems,” Sweat tells Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agent Kurt Titsworth in the video, which was played in open court during previous hearings. “I was scared. ... They were still coming at me, so I shot them.”

Sweat’s bench trial is set for Aug. 4. If convicted of first-degree murder, he faces life in prison, either with or without the possibility of parole.

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