The Edmond Sun
U.S. Supreme Court justices have denied Oklahoma’s request to reinstate the death sentence for a man convicted in the 1994 murders of Edmond residents Shane McInturff and his fiancé Keri Sloniker.
The Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals threw out Rocky Eugene Dodd’s death sentence after his lawyers argued he did not get a fair trial because victim impact statements during the penalty phase were prejudicial.
The federal district court will now issue an order directing that state resentencing proceedings be initiated within 180 days, and the case will return to Oklahoma County District Court for resentencing.
Dodd’s murder convictions remain valid.
“We will continue to press in federal court the inherent unfairness of defense witnesses being allowed to present testimony on recommended punishment while any mention of punishment recommendations by victims’ families, which is consistent with Oklahoma law, is deemed in error,” said AG’s Office spokeswoman Diane Clay.
Attorneys for Dodd could not be reached for comment Monday.
Dodd, now 46, was charged with two-counts of first-degree murder after the bodies of McInturff and Sloniker who were found lying side by side, face-down in a pool of blood in the bedroom of their Edmond apartment on Nov. 7, 1994.
Dodd, who lived in a next door apartment with his wife and daughter, worked with McInturff at a local business.
The bodies were found by McInturff’s father after Dodd reported McInturff had not shown up for work that day, according to court records. The medical examiner determined their throats had been cut with a sharp bladed instrument.
Dodd spoke with his supervisor at work a half-hour after the bodies had been found and told him the victims had been murdered and their throats cut, even though cause of death had not yet been determined, according to court records.
At work earlier that day, Dodd returned a large, fixed-blade hunting knife he had borrowed from a co-worker, according to court records. He left the knife at the co-worker’s station with a note of thanks for letting him borrow it and added he never had a chance to use it. When news of the murders spread around the workplace, the co-worker turned the knife and the note over to police.
During the trial, Dodd testified on his own behalf. He denied participating in the murders. He also changed his account from earlier interviews, according to court records.
First, Dodd admitted that two $70 checks he had written to McInturff were payments for meth and not for a car loan as he had initially claimed. He claimed that when McInturff’s father opened the apartment late Monday afternoon, he saw the checks by McInturff’s wallet and took them at that time.
To explain the fact that no evidence of the checks had been found in the apartment complex trash bin, Dodd altered his story, claiming he had run back to his own apartment, nauseated upon finding his friends were dead and while vomiting in the toilet he tore up the checks and tossed them in as well.
During the trial, Dodd admitted he borrowed a hunting knife from his co-worker a few weeks earlier and returned it the day the bodies were discovered. He claimed he did not have access to the knife at the time of the murders because it was in the trunk of his wife’s car, and she had traveled out of town for the weekend.
Dodd’s wife testified she was in and out of the trunk several times before she left and she did not recall seeing the knife.
During the trial, Dodd said he got the information about the manner of death when an emergency responder made a gesture across his throat with his thumb. In rebuttal, none of the workers recalled making any such gesture and all said doing so would have been highly unprofessional at a homicide scene.
During a search of Dodd’s apartment, officers seized items including a copy of the “Anarchist Cookbook,” which describes among other things how to kill a person with a knife by cutting their throat.
The prosecution’s circumstantial case lacked eyewitnesses and a confession.
In February 2002, Dodd was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder.
As to each count, after finding the existence of two of the four aggravating circumstances alleged by the state — that Dodd had been previously convicted of a felony involving the use or threat of violence and he knowingly created a great risk of death to more than one person — the jury recommended the death penalty.
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