Man charged with mur­der over chase

The Oklahoman - - NEWS - Tulsa World saman­­cent@tul­ BY SAMAN­THA VI­CENT TULSA WORLD]

TAHLEQUAH — A Col­cord man charged with first-de­gree felony mur­der stem­ming from a fa­tal po­lice pur­suit last month is be­ing con­sid­ered a fugi­tive after sign­ing him­self out from a Tulsa hospi­tal where po­lice in­ter­viewed him fol­low­ing the crash.

Aram Barak Ca­tron, 35, is ac­cused of caus­ing the death of Malinda J. Phillips, 36, while elud­ing a Chero­kee Na­tion deputy mar­shal dur­ing a Jan. 26 pur­suit. State law in­di­cates that elud­ing a po­lice of­fi­cer, which is a felony, is among a list of un­der­ly­ing of­fenses that can sup­port a first-de­gree felony mur­der charge.

How­ever, in­ves­ti­ga­tors are still await­ing the re­sults of a blood draw taken from Ca­tron at the hospi­tal to de­ter­mine whether he was also driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence. They have said no dash cam­era or body cam­era footage ex­ists of the in­ci­dent.

It re­mains un­clear which day Ca­tron was dis­charged from the hospi­tal, but Chero­kee County Dis­trict At­tor­ney Jack Thorp said Tues­day dur­ing a press con­fer­ence that it oc­curred be­fore the in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­cluded and be­fore an ar­rest war­rant was au­tho­rized.

Ca­tron, ac­cord­ing to po­lice, sus­tained se­ri­ous in­juries after be­ing ejected from his ve­hi­cle, and they ap­peared to be­lieve it was doubt­ful he would sur­vive.

A prob­a­ble cause af­fi­davit states Ca­tron ad­mit­ted to drink­ing liquor the morn­ing of the crash and had been using metham­phetamine that week. Ca­tron’s ve­hi­cle had used syringes and a nearly empty liquor bot­tle in­side at the time of the col­li­sion, ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ment.

“This was a pretty com­plex in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­cause we were look­ing at (the) felony mur­der (doc­trine), so he was able to dis­charge him­self from the hospi­tal,” Thorp said. “Once we made sure we had the in­ves­ti­ga­tion done right, we filed charges.”

Tahlequah Po­lice Chief Nate King said the U.S Mar­shals Ser­vice worked for sev­eral hours Mon­day at­tempt­ing to ex­e­cute an ar­rest war­rant against Ca­tron, who fre­quents Delaware County and neigh­bor­ing ar­eas in Arkansas.

“Our goal in this was to con­duct an in­ves­ti­ga­tion and charge and pros­e­cute Aram Ca­tron if there was a crime com­mit­ted,” King said. “Run­ning out and ar­rest­ing a per­son does not do jus­tice to the state of Oklahoma, to the fam­ily (or) to a vic­tim of any kind. Prop­erly pros­e­cut­ing a per­son is what brings jus­tice.

“And we chose, largely, based on my opin­ion when talk­ing with Dis­trict At­tor­ney Thorp, to hold off on run­ning out and ar­rest­ing Mr. Ca­tron.”

King said Ca­tron’s in­juries also raised the ques­tion of whether the Chero­kee County De­ten­tion Cen­ter would ac­cept him, had he been taken into cus­tody.

“They’re still lin­ger­ing con­di­tions whether he’s out of the hospi­tal or not,” he said. “At that time, I don’t know if we could have in good con­science ar­rested Aram Ca­tron for first-de­gree mur­der.

“So what hap­pens if we run out and ar­rest him for man­slaugh­ter? At the end of the day and at the end of our in­ves­ti­ga­tion, there’s more there than just man­slaugh­ter.”

A Tahlequah po­lice of­fi­cer wrote in the af­fi­davit that Ca­tron was sus­pected of shoplift­ing from a Wal-Mart store and flee­ing, which Thorp and King said prompted Chero­kee Na­tion Deputy Mar­shal Pre­ston Oosah­wee to give chase once he spot­ted Ca­tron’s ve­hi­cle.

King said the value of the stolen items was less than $100.


One per­son died Jan. 26 in a crash that oc­curred dur­ing a po­lice pur­suit in Tahlequah.

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