The Edmond Sun

State News

January 31, 2014

Assistant DA looks to advance to top spot

GUTHRIE — For the first time in almost two decades there will be an open seat for District Attorney for Payne and Logan counties.

And, for Assistant DA Laura Austin Thomas the timing was right to announce her candidacy for a job she has patiently waited for.

The seat is open with current District Attorney Tom Lee retiring at the end of his term. The filing period is April 9-11.

I have always wanted to run for this office but the opportunity had not presented itself. This is the first time I could realistically file. I have been ready for this for a long time.”

Thomas has 30 years prosecution experience with the past 27 years having worked in Payne and Logan counties in multiple areas ranging from misdemeanors and felony offenses, juvenile delinquent and deprived, capital homicide to administering and managing two of the top performing child support offices in the state.

“I am uniquely qualified for this job,” Thomas said. “I have extensive felony trial experience. I am the only one that has had to stand up and ask a jury for the death penalty. I have experience all the way from traffic to death penalty in trying cases.”

Thomas also would be making a piece of local history as the first elected female district attorney for this district.

“If elected I would be the first female DA in this district,” Thomas said. “The system is still heavily dominated by male district attorneys.”

Thomas, who has three daughters with her husband, says if elected it will reinforce life lessons they taught their children.

Thomas said she is a strong believer that an aggressive juvenile division is the first line of influence and defense in the lives of children in crisis.

Thomas cited the example of wanting to start a program in the public school system aimed at helping students at risk through education and mentoring.

“I would like to partner with those in the community to establish an education program that begins in grade school and goes through high school that is aimed for women at risk,” Thomas said.

Thomas added that the successful collection of child support can remove children and families from poverty and government assistance. In 2013, Thomas was chosen Attorney of the Year by the Oklahoma Child Support Enforcement Association.

Thomas said she has been asked by other district attorney offices across the state to help improve their child support offices.

Thomas said she plans to continue her focus and resources in areas that will protect citizens including domestic abuse, abuse and neglect of children and elderly abuse.

“I strongly believe people should be held accountable and responsible for the consequences of their actions,” Thomas said. “I want to increase prosecution of those who willfully fail to pay child support, those who commit welfare and food stamp fraud and the career criminal.”

Thomas said she would also continue the Drug Court program in Payne and Logan counties whose success is patterned by other counties across the state.

Thomas recently made an appearance before the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board to argue against the recommended release of convicted murderer, Christine Biegler from Payne County.

 “I’m appalled parole would be recommended to the board for this defendant who brutally slaughtered a 52-year-old disabled woman by stabbing her in excess of 30 times and slitting her throat from ear to ear resulting in an agonizing death,” Thomas said. “A jury recommended a life sentence in 1994, and the defendant has had numerous misconduct violations while incarcerated.”

Thomas said she looks forward to having an opportunity to visit with voters in both counties to share her vision for the district attorney’s high office.

FOR MORE information about Thomas’ candidacy, visit her website at www.lauraaustinthomas.org.

1
Text Only
State News
  • Lynette Rae Sampson.jpg Say what?: Woman arrested after calling EPD to complain her meth was ‘laced’

    A 54-year-old Enid woman is facing felony drug charges after allegedly calling police earlier in the week and telling them she thought her methamphetamine was laced with something. Woman to officer: "I'm glad you came."

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Christopher Sparks.jpg 1st-degree murder suspect will return to county to face charge

    Christopher Ryan Sparks was charged July 15 with capital murder, which is punishable by life in prison, life without parole or death. He is accused of killing his live-in girlfriend, Chassidy Michelle Hancock, sometime July 11 in their apartment in Garber.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • marcie_022-4x5.jpg Former Autry superintendent takes CareerTech reins

    She will take on her duties as interim director Aug. 15, the date that State Director Robert Sommers’ resignation takes effect.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Former North Enid PD officer arraigned on DUI charge

    Edward Lynn Dominic appeared before Special District Judge Brian Lovell, free on a $1,000 recognizance bond.

    July 24, 2014

  • photo of oil tanks and fiberglass salt water tank.jpg Officials investigate oil-covered barn owls, dead birds

    “These birds got into a saltwater tank that was full. Most of it’s saltwater, but there’s the scum of oil on top of it. That’s the reason why the (Oklahoma) Corporation Commission and federal rules say that those tanks have to be covered." — Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Major County Game Warden Lt. Frank Huebert

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Candidates disagree with White House’s minimum wage

    Gubernatorial candidate Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, said the state needs to have serious growth in high-paying living wage jobs that will provide for Oklahomans.
    Dorman cautioned that while Oklahoma’s jobless rate improved in June, the state’s rankings for the well-being of children has dropped from 36th to 39th place, for one of the largest declines in the U.S., according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Project.
    The unemployment rate in June dropped to 4.5 percent, down a percentage point from 4.6 percent in May, according to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, Gov. Mary Fallin said this week.
    The state’s unemployment rate was more than 7 percent when Fallin was elected during the brink of the Great Depression. Alex Weintz, communications director for Fallin, pointed out that per capita income in Oklahoma was second in the nation from 2011 to 2013.
    The non partisan Congressional Budget office reported in February that raising the minimum wage could kill a half-million jobs in the United States.
    According to The Washington Times, CBO analysts reported, “Once the other changes in income were taken into account, families whose income would be below six times the poverty threshold under current law would see a small increase in income, on net, and families whose income would be higher under current law would see reductions in income, on net.”
    President Barack Obama in February signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $10.10 an hour.
    Weintz said the governor believes tax cuts have enabled families to keep more of their money.
    No one is talking about the under-employment rate of families working minimum wage jobs, Dorman said.
    “It’s all fine and good when you have fast-food jobs that don’t cover the bills and that counts toward your unemployment rate.”
    Oklahoma’s minimum wage reflects the federal minimum wage set at $7.25 an hour, a standard set in 2009.
    Fallin signed legislation this year to prohibit municipalities from raising their local minimum wage above $7.25 an hour.
    “If the minimum wage goes up to $15 in Oklahoma City, all of the sudden you would drive retail, business, service industry locations outside of the city limits and that would be detrimental to the economy, consumers and to businesses,” Weintz said.
    Fallin has said that she opposes raising the minimum wage in Oklahoma because it would stifle job growth for small business and lay off workers. A lot of people earning the $7.25 minimum wage are part-time workers and many of them are students, Weintz said.
    “We believe raising the minimum wage is not a good way to address poverty,” Weintz said. “A lot of people earning the minimum wage are actually people living with their parents or other people who are employed full time, and in many cases they are middle class families. So it’s not a good tool to reduce poverty.”
    Dorman said he does not necessarily support the proposed $10.10 an hour minimum federal minimum wage that is being discussed by Congress.
    “I think we need to have a living wage in Oklahoma that is reflective of our economy,” Dorman said.
    About 102,300 jobs have been added in Oklahoma since Fallin took office in January 2011, according to her office.
    The cost of living in the national economy tends to be higher in some other states, Dorman said.
    So a minimum wage increase should be tied to economic gains so that families can pay their bills and afford to care for their children, Dorman said.
    Independent candidates for governor include Richard Prawdzienski of Edmond, Joe Sills of Oklahoma City and Kimberly Willis of Oklahoma City.

    July 24, 2014

  • Red Dirt Rangers Zope.jpg Red Dirt Rangers celebrate 25 years together at Cimarron Breeze Concert Series

    Founding musicians from the Red Dirt music scene perform Friday night at the Old Church Center in the Oklahoma Territorial Plaza in Perkins.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Preparing for a fall home garden

    Gardening can be a year-around activity for those that have an appreciation for fresh and nutritious vegetables. Some of the best vegetables in Oklahoma are produced and harvested during the cooler weather of fall. Successful fall gardens, however, require some work in the summer growing season. Factors to be considered are location, soil preparation, crops to be grown and how/when to plant.  
    The major consideration for garden placement is sunlight. All vegetables require some sunlight; the most popular vegetables require full sun. “Full” sun means at least 8 hours of intense, direct exposure.

    July 24, 2014

  • OBU dance team celebrates National Dance Day

    In 2010, “So You Think You Can Dance” co-creator and Dizzy Feet Foundation co-president Nigel Lythgoe created National Dance Day in an effort to help people embrace dance and combat obesity on the last Saturday in July.
    This year, on July 26, Oklahoma Baptist University’s dance team will host a fundraiser that allows participants to dance all day for $30. The fundraiser will be in the Noble Complex on OBU’s campus.
    Cami Gower, an OBU junior and co-captain/co-founder of the dance team, said the team’s officers have been planning for their upcoming season since April. Gower is a graduate of Deer Creek High School.
    “Since then we have been coming up with better ways to reach the community with dance,” she said. “This day of dance was a great way to do it and help the team raise funds.”

    July 24, 2014

  • Blackmon.jpg Local cops arrest NFL player on marijuana complaint

    The Edmond Police Department has released the incident report related to the arrest of ex-Oklahoma State star and current NFL player Justin Blackmon.
    Blackmon, 24, a product of Plainview High School in Ardmore, is a 6-1, 210-pound wide receiver in his second year with the Jacksonville Jaguars. At Oklahoma State University, he was a two-time Biletnikoff Award winner as the country’s best collegiate wide receiver.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo