A now 20-year-old man who pled guilty to murder received life in prison without parole Wednesday, more than a year after robbing and shooting a Norman man.
Cleveland County Judge Michael Tupper handed down the ruling to defendant Ivan Lawrence Myers, who was 18 at the time of the Feb. 12, 2020, shooting at Norman's Twin Creek Village Apartments.
According to an affidavit, Myers and co-defendant Chloe Mikyla Moseley robbed Walker Pitchlynn, 20, of about $100 and shot him five times in the back. When they discovered he had called 911 before the attack, they fled and ran through a nearby creek, ditching the gun, which Myers had stolen from his grandmother. They were captured about half a mile south of the complex.
In court Wednesday, Assistant District Attorney Pattye High played about three minutes of the 13-minute 911 call for the judge and family and friends of the victim and defendant in attendance, some of whom became emotional during the playback.
The call captures Myers saying, “I'll shoot you in the face," followed by Moseley telling Pitchlynn to give them the money. Pitchlynn responds, "Fine, I'll give you the money, just leave me alone,” then gunshots are heard.
According to an affidavit, police found Pitchlynn slumped over in the driver's seat but alive 13 minutes after he placed the call. He died shortly after.
High said the call location had to be pinged from cell towers, which led to a slower response. Residents at the complex heard and saw what happened, some taking videos, and assisted police in identifying and locating the defendants.
“People cared enough to look outside and see what was happening,” High said.
In a video interview shown in court, shortly after the shooting and after he was treated due to drug use before the shooting, Myers claimed he shot Pitchlynn because Pitchlynn punched Moseley. However, he also claimed he would have shot Pitchlynn anyway, and said Moseley had nothing to do with it. He also showed no remorse, and said the shooting allowed him to relieve stress.
High said pointed out later that Moseley suffered no injuries, and her face showed no signs of being punched.
High said Myers was self centered in the video, wanting to talk to his girlfriend, go to his cell and get some sleep. He also refused to say where he stashed the gun and, at one point, invoked his Miranda rights before later revoking them to see what evidence Norman officers had on him.
High requested that Myers get life in prison with no parole.
Myers' attorney, Troy Cowan with the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System, said his defendant was high at the time of the robbery. Cowan said Myers never knew his father growing up, and he and his family were suffering from a lot of stress at the time of the shooting.
Cowan said when Myers was initially taken to the Norman Investigations Center for questioning, he was unable even to sit in a chair. At the hospital, he was given a drug usually administered to treat drug overdoses, then was taken back to the NIC to be interviewed before being placed in jail.
“Clearly he was not in a good space when that statement was made,” Cowan said, adding that Myers was an 18 year old who made terrible choices and that he believes he could redeem himself one day. “He shouldn't lose his life.”
Cowan asked for a life sentence with the chance of parole, asking Tupper to provide hope for Myers.
High noted that Myers was in and out of the juvenile system for five years, with plenty of chances to receive help and change, including psychiatric help.
During sentencing deliberations, Tupper heard from the victim's parents and two sisters, Myers' grandmother and Myers.
Pitchlynn's father Gary said his adopted son Walker's birthday was on Christmas Day. Walker came to the family at six months old and was officially adopted after two years.
Gary said Walker was a member of the Chickasaw Nation; he had attention deficit disorder and Asperger's syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. He was an Eagle Scout and a strong writer, and had recently given his life to God.
Gary said he now has an empty space in his life that can't be filled. He supported life in prison.
“I take some comfort believing that I will see him again,” Gary said, noting his Christian faith.
Gary said he couldn't forgive Myers yet, but told Myers that God can offer him mercy and grace, even behind bars.
“Perhaps your next life will be better,” he said.
Ashley Payne described her younger brother Walker as silly, naive, intelligent, tech smart, an expert video gamer and a music enthusiast.
“He was a handsome young man coming into his own,” she said.
Payne said she will never be able to get the sound of Walker begging for his life out of her head.
“There's a gap in our family where Walker should be,” she said, adding that she finds peace knowing that Myers will have to answer to God for his crimes.
Penny Pitchlynn said Myers robbed her of her chance to reconnect with her brother. She and Walker grew apart in their youth, and had recently started getting closer when he was murdered.
“He will always be a little kid in my mind. I'd never wish this pain we've gone through on anyone,” she said, adding that she didn't wish for the death penalty. “I believe in redemption and forgiveness.”
Joyce Pitchlynn said Christmas Day will never be the same without her son; it's an especially deep pain as the rest of the world is rejoicing because of the holiday, she said.
“He's all over this town and Oklahoma City,” she said, adding that memories of good times with Walker pop up everywhere.
The defendant's grandmother, Roxanne Rowe, apologized to Walker's family for Myers' actions and said she prays for them every day.
“You are the ones who are suffering here. You should never have to bury a child,” she said.
Rowe said the grandson she sees today isn't the one she knew; she believes Myers wouldn't have shot Pitchlynn if he wasn't impaired by drugs, adding that she supported life with parole.
In court Wednesday, Myers apologized and took responsibility for his actions. He noted his severe drug addiction, and told his family to stay strong.
Before handing down his sentencing, Tupper thanked Pitchlynn's family for sharing their memories of Walker, and said there was nothing he could say that would give them complete healing.
Tupper described Myers' crimes as cruel, heartless, cold, callous and very cowardly. Tupper said his work on the drug treatment court has shown him how addiction can play into poor decision making, but he has never seen anything like what Myers did in his 20 years on the bench.
He called Myers a predator and dangerous, and said he has victimized both Pitchlynn's family and his own. He said it appears Myers was using drugs to put his conscience at ease, and didn't believe Myers was under the influence of drugs when officers interviewed him.
Since Myers was assessed as a high-risk offender and a risk to the community, Tupper sentenced him to life.
“Here we are, left to pick up the pieces for what you have done,” he said.