Oklahoma News

Former Tulsa County Sheriff's reserve deputy Robert Bates enters the Tulsa County Jail.
Matt Trotter / KWGS Public Radio Tulsa

An ex-Oklahoma volunteer sheriff's deputy who fatally shot a restrained and unarmed man has waived his right to a preliminary hearing.

Defense attorney Clark Brewster told The Associated Press Friday that his client, Robert Bates, waived his right because the basic facts of the case are not in dispute. The former Tulsa County Sheriff's Office reserve deputy has pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter in the death of Eric Harris on April 2.

Bates declined to comment outside of court Friday. He is next due in court July 6.

Ginny Sain, left and Anna Marie Lane protest the conditions at the Oklahoma County Jail Tuesday evening.
M. Scott Carter / Oklahoma Watch

The sewage problems at the Oklahoma County’s beleaguered jail continue. In an echo of last year, sewage lines at the jail overflowed recently, flooding an unknown number of cells.

The incident mirrored a problem from 2014 in which a sewage line under the building collapsed and prevented county officials from using the kitchen for months.

On Tuesday a half-dozen protesters took to the sidewalk in front of the jail. They said they wanted the public to know just how bad conditions were in the facility, with one calling it “the worst jail in America.”

Oklahoma Department of Transportation crews assess Thursday's rock slide along Interstate 35 northbound in Murray County near Davis.
Oklahoma Department of Transportation

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation says it’s working to remove nearly 20,000 tons of rock that fell in a June 18 landslide that’s kept Interstate 35 partially shut down for the past week.

Nearly 20 roads remain closed from previous storms dating to early May.

The 14 flags at the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City. The Confederate "Stars and Bars" flag occupies the third pole from the front.
Kate Carlton Greer / KGOU

Oklahoma Historical Society executive director Bob Blackburn says he doesn’t think the calls to remove the Confederate battle flag from state Capitols in South Carolina or Alabama – or the move by retailers like Wal-Mart, Amazon, and Sears to stop selling merchandise featuring the symbol – will impact one of the 14 flags flying at the Oklahoma History Center.

Jaimee Flinchbaugh / Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden

The Oklahoma City Zoo announced the birth of a giraffe Tuesday. The five-foot-tall ungulate born Monday is the fourth offspring of 15-year-olds Ellie and Bogy.

“Both mom and calf are doing well,” hoofstock supervisor Jaimee Flinchbaugh said in a statement. “Ellie is an experienced, doting mom, and her calf is full of energy and personality. We are excited to watch her grow.”

President Obama dines with young Muslim leader's during Monday's annual Iftar celebration at the White House.
The White House / Twitter

Samantha Elauf, the Muslim woman from Tulsa who won a Supreme Court case against clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch after they didn't hire her when she showed up to a job interview wearing a headscarf, dined with President Obama Monday night during the White House's annual Iftar dinner.

It’s the seventh Iftar hosted by the president, a breaking of the fast at sunset during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Elauf was one of eight guests seated at the president’s table during the event with a special focus this year on young leaders and women.

About 250 people attended Sunday night's vigil at Avery Chapel AME Church in Oklahoma City for the victims of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina
Kate Carlton Greer / KGOU

Sunday church services nationwide spoke to the tragedy in Charleston, South Carolina.

Pastors from across the state led prayers as hundreds gathered Sunday evening at Avery Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Oklahoma City for a prayer service honoring the nine victims of last week’s shooting.

“We will not lay down and be divided by evil,” Avery Chapel senior pastor the Rev. D. Lavel Crawford told the roughly 250 attendees.

Kate Hiscock / Flickr Creative Commons

The Oklahoma Employment and Security Commission reported Friday that Oklahoma's unemployment rate in March increased to 4.3 percent, up two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month.

This marks the second consecutive month Oklahoma's unemployment rate has risen, but it still remains well below the national rate of 5.5 percent.

The commission reports about 80,000 Oklahomans were classified as unemployed last month.

Statistics show the oil and gas industry continues to shed jobs, with about 1,200 jobs lost from April to May in the mining and logging sector.

Tim (Timothy) Pearce / Flickr.com

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections currently has 99 offenders categorized as fugitives, but most of those are from work-release programs, halfway houses or GPS monitoring.

Several Oklahoma fugitives, however, have escaped from medium- or maximum-security facilities, and some have been living on the run for decades.

Those include:

Kenneth Cook, now 85, convicted of first-degree manslaughter, who escaped from the Oklahoma State Reformatory in Granite on Nov. 24, 1986;

Thursday's rock slide along Interstate 35 northbound in Murray County near Davis
Oklahoma Department of Transportation

Oklahoma Department of Transportation officials are cautioning drivers to avoid Interstate 35 in the southern portion of the state after severe flooding caused a rockslide that blocked the highway this week.

The agency urged drivers instead to take US-81 or US-69 as alternate routes while construction continues.

Officials say southbound I-35 is narrowed to one lane at the rock slide location at the Arbuckle Mountains.

While construction continues, the agency says drivers should expect heavy congestion and delays for the upcoming weeks.

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