Tulsa shooting suspect's mother defends her son from prison
Jake England's attorney says man's Facebook post has been misconstrued
England and Alvin Watts are accused of first-degree murder, other charges
They are accused of killing 3 African-Americans and wounding two others
Editor’s Note: This story contains offensive language.
The mother of one of two men accused of shooting and killing three African-Americans in Tulsa, Oklahoma, earlier this month said Tuesday her son was “a very good kid.”
“I’m still devastated from the news. I can’t wrap my head around that,” Teri Alexander told CNN from the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McCloud, Oklahoma. She’s serving an 18-year sentence on an arson conviction.
Alexander’s son, Jake England, and his friend, Alvin Watts, are accused of first-degree murder and other charges in the April 6 shooting spree, which came a day after he posted a message lamenting his father’s death two years earlier “at the hands of a f–king n—-r.”
A judge on Monday entered not guilty pleas for the men and ordered them held without bond pending a May 30 preliminary hearing.
England’s attorney, Clark Brewster, reiterated Tuesday that England, 19, is not a racist, despite the posting.
“The fact that he uses that term and is comfortable in using that term in describing in a real derogatory fashion one person does not make him a racist,” Brewster said. “He used the most derogatory term he could in describing the person who shot his dad in the heart.”
Brewster took the case after England’s mother wrote an impassioned plea for her son’s defense from prison.
His office released a jailhouse interview Monday recorded by the legal team in which England spoke of the trauma of seeing his father killed and his girlfriend commit suicide in front of him, as well as troubles with depression.
In the video, England also talked of growing up and living in North Tulsa, which has a large African-American community, and said he had friends of all races.
“I always got along with everybody,” he said in the video, which was recorded last Friday. “It didn’t matter what color he was.”
The language in the Facebook post was used “just to express how I was upset at the guy who shot my dad,” England said in the interview, adding that was the only time he had used the derogatory term to describe someone.
That view is starkly different from the portrayal of England and Watts, 33, that has been offered by authorities.
Authorities say the two went into a largely African-American section of Tulsa after midnight April 6, killing three people and wounding two others. Police have said the two confessed to the killings shortly after their arrest.
All the shooting victims were black. Police have identified Watts and England as white, though the probable cause affidavit released Friday noted England was a co-owner of a truck that had Cherokee Nation license plates.
Three Crime Stoppers tips helped lead authorities to the men, according to the affidavit. In the first, made last Saturday, a caller described England as “a racist (who) hates black males” and said he had “bragged about other shootings.”
Another person phoned to say that England had gone off to burn his truck, which was similar to the vehicle seen by several people – including one of the survivors – in and around the area where the shootings took place. Sheriff deputies soon after found a 1989 Chevy truck with the Cherokee Nation tag on fire in North Tulsa.
The third caller to contact Crime Stoppers on April 7 said England had “made several comments about killing black people” and wanted “justice” for his father’s killing. This person added that England “uses drugs and will not go down without a fight.”
In addition to the first-degree murder charges, Watts and England also face two counts of shooting with intent to kill and five counts of malicious harassment – the equivalent of a hate crime under Oklahoma law.
The law makes it illegal to “maliciously and with the specific intent to intimidate or harass another person because of that person’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin or disability.”
Prosecutors have not yet announced if they plan to seek the death penalty on the murder charges.
The Justice Department is investigating the shootings to determine if federal civil rights laws were violated.
CNN’s Carol Cratty contributed to this report.