The two men accused of terrorizing Tulsa residents in a shooting rampage that left three Black men dead and two others wounded on April 6 have plead not guilty to the crimes, and one of the accused has refuted claims that the killings were racially motivated, citing his Black friends and associates.
According to reports, Jake England, 19, and Alvin Watts, 33, said nothing during their arraignment Monday, April 16, as the presiding judge entered the plea on their behalf.
Just days ago, however, the Associated Press reported both men previously confessed to the crimes, based on police documents supplied to the news agency. The papers allegedly show that England confessed to shooting three people and Watts confessed to shooting two.
The men face several charges in connection with the April 6 shootings, including three counts of murder, two counts of shooting with intent to kill and five counts of malicious harassment — based on allegations that England and Watts targeted Blacks exclusively. The malicious harassment charges cover hate crimes; however the Oklahoma statute governing cases of malicious harassment carries a maximum sentence of one year and a fine of $1,000.
"I always got along with everybody. It didn't matter what color you [were]," England told his attorney, Clark Brewster, in a videotaped interview from jail.
In addition to all of the victims being Black, flags were raised by a Facebook posting England made hours before the shooting featuring racist slurs.
"Today is two years that my dad has been gone, shot by a f-----g n----r. It's hard not to go off between that and Sheran. I'm gone in the head," England wrote on Facebook according to CBS.
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(Photo: AP Photo/Tulsa Police Department via Tulsa World, File)