(Stillwater, Okla.) -- On his 23rd birthday today, an ex-convict from Cushing was ordered to stand trial on a first-degree murder charge in the Dec. 1, 2011, fatal beating of 45-year-old Ava M. King of Cushing --- whom he had met that night at a downtown Cushing bar.
Benjamin Joel Andrew Littlesun remains in the Payne County Jail without bail pending his arraignment in trial court on May 11 before District Judge Phillip Corley.
Littlesun's chief defense attorney Peter Astor argued unsuccessfully at the close of a preliminary hearing today in court, "the statements attributed to Mr. Littlesun at most show second-degree murder, but most likely first-degree manslaughter."
District Attorney Tom Lee responded in court, "He hit her twice in the face knocking her down, then stomped her 20 to 25 times."
Noting that the intention to commit murder can be made in an instant, Special District Judge Katherine Thomas overruled the defense argument that the evidence was insufficient to support a first-degree murder charge before binding Littlesun over for trial on that charge.
Asked after court recessed whether he would seek the death penalty for Littlesun, the district attorney said that he had not yet made a decision, but would have to do so under state law by Littlesun's trial court arraignment on May 11.
Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Agent Richard Brown testified that he interviewed Littlesun at the Cushing Police Department on Dec. 2, 2011.
Littlesun had been spotted walking in front of the Wilshire Inn by Cushing Police Officer Matthew Piatt, who arrested him on an outstanding Creek County warrant, according to testimony today.
The OSBI agent testified today that Littlesun's statements were audio-recorded, not videotaped.
The OSBI agent testified that Littlesun said "him and a cousin of his decided to go to the Buckhorn Bar to hang out and drink."
Littlesun said that he did not know King, whose body was found by Cushing resident John Sheridan the morning after she was slain in an alley behind the Cushing tag agency. Sheridan testified he assists his wife in the tag agency and called Cushing police.
Littlesun told the OSBI agent when he left the bar, King said she needed a ride home.
"He said he went to his pickup. He said they drank a bottle of alcohol. He said she removed her clothes and started having sex. He said she said she can't do this. She exits the vehicle still naked from the waist down.
"He said that he caught up with her about Cleveland Street and offered her a ride home.
"He said she slapped him and spit in his face. He said he punched her twice. He said he took his foot and stomped her 20 to 25 times about her face.
"He said he thought her breathing was unusual. Her chest was going in. He said he went out of the alley. He said he ran back to the bar, got his cousin and they left.
"He said he kept her (King's) driver's license. He thought he'd give it back to her later.
"He disclosed that the boots he was wearing he threw on top of a church in Cushing," where according to court testimony they were later found. He said that clothing was put in a dumpster, the OSBI agent testified.
On cross-examination from Astor, the OSBI agent tesified, "I was advised prints were lifted from the scene that matched Mr. Littlesun's."
Cushing Police Chief Terry Brannon, who was in the courtroom as an observer during the preliminary hearing, had requested the assistance of the OSBI in the homicide investigation.
Cushing Police Officer Carson Watts, who was called to the scene at 7:30 a.m. Dec. 2, 2011, said he said he saw a female lying in the alley nude from the waist down, with two shirts on, both pulled up.
Watts testified that she had such severe facial trauma that he couldn't recognize a face. He said he felt a slight pulse.
"I said, 'maam, maam,' and her head moved to the left. I asked, 'maam, maam, can you tell me what happened?' Her head moved one more time, but not again," after that, Watts testified.
Watts called for emergency medical personnel and other officers to come to the crime scene, which he photographed with a digital camera and also with his dash cam video. She was taken to the Cushing hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Under cross-examination from Littlesun's other court-appointed defense attorney, Jodie Gage, Watts testified "We located underwear, shorts, socks, in a dumpster behind Atwood's. We had received information Mr. Littlesun had possibly been there.
"The OSBI recovery team came out. They collected the evidence," he testified.
An employee of the Buckhorn Bar, Tiffany Marie England, testified that she had known Littlesun since she was 15.
She said that he was in the downtown Cushing bar on Dec. 1, 2011, and left about 10:30 p.m. with a female whom she had never before seen. She said the woman had two or three beers.
"She didn't return. He (Littlesun) was gone about 30 minutes," and returned to tell a cousin he was ready to leave, she testified.
She described the woman who left the bar with Littlesun as "real friendly," and said she was "under the influence a bit."
Another of Littlesun's cousins, Wilson McKinney, who was a 16-year-old Cushing High School student at the time of the slaying, seemed very nervous about testifying against Littlesun.
McKinney, who is now 17, said that at the time, he lived in Cushing near the hospital with his aunt, who is the mother of Littlesun.
McKinney said that when Littlesun came to the house that night "he looked drunk."
McKinney testified that he left with Littlesun in his truck: "He kept saying he was in trouble. He said the bitch wouldn't quit talking shit. He said her pants were in the back," of the truck.
"He mentioned he might have stomped her," McKinney testified. McKinney testified that when Cushing police talked to him the next day after he got home from school, he took them to a dumpster where clothes had been dumped.
Cushing Police dispatcher/jailer Richard Thompson testified that when he booked Littlesun into the city jail shortly before 6 p.m. on Dec. 2, 2011, he found an ID that belonged to Ava King.
"I showed it to Officer Piatt," Thompson added.
As Littlesun was led out of the courtroom in leg irons and shackles, one of his relatives told him to hold his head up.
People who appeared to be friends and relatives of Littlesun sat on one side of the courtroom behind him and his attorneys.
The victim's friends and relatives sat on the other side of the courtroom behind the district attorney and lead OSBI agent in the case.
Littlesun had been out of prison for 15 months when the slaying occurred, according to state Department of Corrections records.
He served less than nine months for possession of a stolen vehicle in Drumright in 2008 and possession of a stolen vehicle in Payne County in 2009, DOC records show.