Ex-Oklahoma City Cop Convicted of Raping Women While on Duty
By Kyle Schwab
Jurors Thursday night found a fired Oklahoma City police officer guilty of sexual offenses involving eight victims and chose punishments that could mean he will never go free.
"I didn't do it!" Daniel Ken Holtzclaw shouted inside the Oklahoma County courtroom as he was handcuffed behind his back after the verdicts were read.
Holtzclaw, of Oklahoma City, was charged with 36 counts that accused him of sexually assaulting 13 black females between December 2013 and June 2014 while a police officer. Holtzclaw was fired in January.
He was convicted Thursday of 18 of those counts, including four counts of first-degree rape.
Jurors chose punishments ranging from five to 30 years. Prosecutors plan to ask District Judge Timothy Henderson to force Holtzclaw to serve the prison time consecutively -- for a total of 263 years.
The verdicts came on his 29th birthday and after jurors had deliberated 45 hours over four days.
Formal sentencing was set for Jan. 21.
"Justice was done," District Attorney David Prater told reporters afterward.
"To the African-American community, I'll say this ... I appreciate you trusting us and standing down and making sure nothing foolish happened during the investigation of this case and during the trying of this case," Prater said.
"You trusted us, and we appreciate that. The Oklahoma City Police Department did the right thing, and so did we. And you trusted us to do it. And I hope you know we will continue to do that."
Holtzclaw was convicted of first-degree rape, second-degree rape by instrumentation, sexual battery, forcible oral sodomy and procuring lewd exhibition.
As the judge read the first guilty verdict, on the first count, Holtzclaw, his supporters and family began to cry.
Holtzclaw lowered his head and visibly trembled as the judge read the rest of the 36 verdicts.
Holtzclaw breathed heavily and stared the jurors down as sheriff's deputies escorted him from the courtroom.
The victim who initiated the police investigation was in the courtroom for the reading of the verdicts. Jurors agreed Holtzclaw forced her to perform a sex act during a traffic stop. "I was afraid for my life," she testified.
The woman, a grandmother, hugged others beside her in the courtroom and cried with her supporters.
Outside the courtroom, a prayer circle formed. "Thank you for justice, Heavenly Father," one woman said.
After the prayer circle, two women began singing the "Happy Birthday" song.
"Happy birthday, dear Daniel. Happy birthday, to you!" they sang.
Appeal is expected
Jurors began deliberating shortly after 5:20 p.m. Monday after more than five hours of closing arguments.
The judge read the jury's verdicts about 8:25 p.m. Thursday.
The packed courtroom remained mostly calm as the verdicts were read. The judge had warned the audience not to make any loud outbursts.
Holtzclaw's attorney, Scott Adams, declined comment. An appeal is expected.
The youngest victim testified she was 17 at the time of the attack. Jurors found Holtzclaw guilty of raping her on her mother's front porch. Her DNA was found on the inside and outside of Holtzclaw's pants. It was the only DNA evidence from a victim in the case.
Holtzclaw denied the allegations. His attorney throughout the trial attempted to damage the accusers' credibility by referencing past criminal or drug activity.
Holtzclaw did not testify in his own defense.
The case gained national attention early on when an all-white jury was selected. Court records describe Holtzclaw as "Asian or Pacific Islander."
After the verdicts, Prater addressed why the jury of eight men and four women ended up being all white. He said defense attorneys kicked off the only jury candidates who were black.
"We objected to that, hoping we would have a good cross-section of the community," he said.
He also said the not guilty verdicts involving five victims does not mean the jurors didn't believe those women. He said it may mean prosecutors didn't prove those counts beyond a reasonable doubt.
In a statement, the Oklahoma City Police Department thanked jurors for their service.
"It was a long and difficult trial and deliberation process for all involved. It is obvious the jury took their responsibilities very seriously and considered every piece of evidence presented to them," the police department said.
"We are proud of our detectives and prosecutors for a job well done.
"We are satisfied with the jury's decision and firmly believe justice was served."
Oklahoma City Councilman John Pettis also said Thursday night that justice was served. "However, I had hoped the jury would have found him guilty of all the charges. My prayers go out to all of the victims," Pettis said.
The trial began Nov. 2 and lasted 21 days. At least three times, protesters chanted, "Black women matter! All women matter!" outside the courthouse. On one occasion, the chanting of "We want life!" from outside briefly interrupted an accuser's testimony.
Several of the women have sued Holtzclaw and the city. Those cases are pending.
Contributing: Nolan Clay and William Crum, Staff Writers
(c)2015 The Oklahoman