Former Oklahoma volunteer deputy waives hearing

AP News
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Posted: Jun 26, 2015 3:42 PM

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A former Oklahoma volunteer sheriff's deputy who fatally shot a restrained and unarmed man waived his right to a preliminary hearing Friday and was ordered to stand trial.

Robert Bates, the 73-year-old former Tulsa County Sheriff's Office reserve, appeared in district court with his attorneys Friday and told District Judge Martha Rupp Carter he understood his rights in waiving the hearing. Bates is next due in court July 13 for arraignment, prosecutors said.

Bates has pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter in the April 2 shooting death of Eric Harris, who ran from authorities during a sting involving gun sales. Bates has said he confused his stun gun and handgun when he shot Harris.

Defense attorney Clark Brewster told The Associated Press that since the basic facts of what happened aren't in dispute, moving directly to trial would put his client in a better position to defend himself. Bates declined to comment on the case outside of the courtroom.

Prosecutors didn't object to Bates' waiver of his preliminary hearing. Assistant District Attorney Eric Jordan said Friday it's common for defendants to waive preliminary hearings when the alleged crime is caught on tape, like the Harris shooting.

"There's nothing to be advanced in the case by either side when the crime is on tape," he said.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is looking into Harris' shooting after a leaked 2009 memo raised concerns about Bates' training. The reserve deputy program also has been temporarily suspended pending a review of the certification and training records of its 126 reservists.

The shooting and leaked memo have also prompted thousands of voters to sign a petition calling for a grand jury investigation into whether Sheriff Stanley Glanz neglected his duties and whether reserve deputies who gave donations to the sheriff were given special treatment.

Bates, a friend of Glanz's, has donated tens of thousands of dollars in cash and equipment to the office.