All last week the Pushmataha County Courthouse was host to the first of four trials of individuals charged with the murder of Robert Strickland of Hugo. This crime took place in April of 2010 and crime scenes were located in Choctaw, McCurtain and Pushmataha Counties. Twelve O.S.B.I. Agents and over 30 law enforcement officers, belonging to multiple agencies in the three counties, were involved in these investigation.
The body of Robert Strickland, was found in Pushmataha County after Strickland had been reported missing on April 5, 2010. Two men, Clifton Parrish, 26 of Fort Towson, and Aaron Jacobs, 25 of Spencerville, were arrested and charged with First Degree Murder on April 9, 2010. Another was also arrested and charged with First Degree Murder, Natasha Cathey, a 26 year-old white female also known as Natasha Harper, on August 2, 2010.
According to statements made, Strickland had been lured out onto a county road after receiving a message sent by a friend, Karrie McKeever, who said she was having car problems by Messer, OK. McKeever was with Cathey, Jacobs and Parrish. This is where Strickland is believed to have been robbed and an altercation took place where Strickland has hit several times in the face and head knocking him unconscious.
In statements to the police, Jacobs admitted to cleaning up the first crime scene and loading Strickland into Strickland’s Expedition and driving away. According to Jacobs’ statement, Strickland died in the Expedition while he was driving the vehicle from his residents towards Antlers on State Highway 3.
On Trial last week (January 9th through January 13th) was Aaron Jacobs, who was being defended by Attorney J.P. Longacre. The prosecutors were District Attorney Mark Mattloft and his Assistant, Johnny Loard. The Judge who tried this case was Judge Jana Wallace.
The jury was comprised of 10 men and 2 women, who it only took approximately 50 minutes to deliver a verdict once the trial was complete on Friday afternoon. Eighteen witnesses, including law enforcement, medical examiners and forensic experts, along with others, took the stand in an attempt to help the jury make an informed decision.
Jacobs was found guilty of First Degree Murder and was sentenced to life in prison.
“I am extremely proud of the jury,” said Mark Mattloft, District Attorney. “They quickly handed down justice and were very tentative throughout this long trial.”
Codefendant, Natasha Cathy, had been offered a deal by the previous administration (before Mattloft took office). Before Jacobs’ trial began, her lawyer had contacted the DA’s office and informed them that she wasn’t going to accept any deals and she wouldn’t be testifying at the trial. The D.A.’s office was well prepared, as they already had her testimony on file from the preliminary hearing, and were prepared to read the transcripts during the trial. But in a bizarre turn of events, when they stepped up to read the testimony on the day of the trial, Cathy took the stand and testified with no deals in place with the D.A. Cathy will stand trial at a later date.
“It was amazing to see the cooperation between the multiple agencies involved and I am proud to have been apart of this case. Having multiple crime scenes made it very difficult for law enforcement officers but they did an outstanding job and put in many man hours to see this investigation through to the end,” said Mattloft.
The next of the four charged, Clifton Parrish, has a tentative court date that is scheduled to take place in March of this year.