Oklahoma man faces trial in slaying of 6, including 5 kids

August 12, 2021 GMT

MUSKOGEE, Okla. (AP) — A Muskogee man accused of killing six people, including five children, was ordered to face trial on murder charges after a judge heard testimony from the children’s mother.

District Judge Bret Smith also reiterated Wednesday his decision to ban journalists and other spectators from listening to evidence in the case, according to the Tulsa World.

Jarron Deajon Pridgeon, 26, is also being charged with intent to kill and possession of firearms during probation stemming from the February shootings, court records show.

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Muskogee police said they don’t yet know why Pridgeon fatally shot Javarion Lee, 24, or the children, the oldest of whom was 9. The children’s mother, Brittany Anderson, was also wounded in the shootings and was hospitalized in Tulsa.

Police identified the slain children as Jalaiya Pridgeon, 1; Jaidus Pridgeon, 3; Harmony Anderson, 5; Neveah Pridgeon, 6; and Que’dynce Anderson, 9.

Defense attorney Gretchen Mosley argued Pridgeon has “some real mental health issues” and alleged evidence suggests Lee, was involved in the homicides of the children, possibly prompting Pridgeon to shoot Lee in response while in the midst of a mental health crisis.

District Attorney Orvil Loge remained adamant that Pridgeon was criminally responsible, pointing to testimony from the surviving mother, who said she saw Pridgeon with a gun in his hand while he said, “I shouldn’t have done that.”

Smith still has not issued an order explaining the reasons journalists could not hear testimony but did sign an order releasing portions of police body camera footage to the public. He said “the public has a right” to see them and wrote that “accurate reporting by the media serves the public interest.”