CNHI News Service


July 22, 2005

District attorney recused from death probe

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The local district attorney’s office has officially recused itself from serving as a legal adviser for a grand jury sought to investigate the death of a Tahlequah woman.

Charlie Price, spokesman for Attorney General Drew Edmondson, confirmed that District Attorney Richard L. Gray sent a letter to Edmondson, disqualifying himself and his staff from advising the panel. The petition to impanel the grand jury has been circulating since Monday.

Price said Edmondson had not appointed a special prosecutor to serve as a legal adviser to the panel if sufficient signatures are gathered to investigate the death of Deborah Cordell, 49. Petitioners must obtain 2,910 valid signatures for Chief District Judge Bruce Sewell to call for the grand jury.

Gray said he will disqualify his staff from the prosecution of a John Doe first-degree murder charge filed in August 2003.

Cordell was found dead in her apartment in July 2003. Gray said his office has a conflict in the case because one of the suspects in Cordell’s death is now married to one of his employees. He said the marriage occurred after the Cordell homicide.

Jim Cosby, a local attorney, filed the petition for the investigation on behalf of Clarence Cordell, the victim’s father.

The death is being investigated by Tahlequah police and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. In a previous interview, Police Chief Steve Farmer said he considers the case an “open homicide investigation.”

Bob Gibbins writes for the Tahlequah (Okla.) Daily Press.

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