(Stillwater, Okla.) — An ex-convict from Cushing was found mentally competent Monday to face a first-degree murder charge in the Dec. 1 fatal beating of a Cushing woman — whom he had met that night at a downtown Cushing bar.
Benjamin Joel Andrew Littlesun, 22 — who was brought into the courtroom Monday in a belly chain with shackles and leg irons — showed no emotion when his chief defense attorney Peter Astor stipulated to his competence.
Special District Judge Katherine Thomas Monday ordered that Littlesun, who remains jailed without bail, return to court on May 3 for a preliminary hearing on a first-degree murder charge in the slaying of 45-year-old Ava M. King.
Her fiance, Gary Southworth, wrote in a victim impact statement filed in court records in March, “She was my girlfriend for eight years and didn’t hurt anybody. I may not be right to say, but as a Vietnam Marine I wish I could have beat his head in.
“I did start going to her church in place of her. He stopped us from getting married in January,” wrote Southworth — who said he could not stand to even look at Littlesun.
“He took part of my life, so he doesn’t deserve one,” added Southworth — who wants Littlesun to receive the death penalty.
Payne County District Attorney Tom Lee has said that he won’t made a decision on whether to seek the death penalty for Littlesun until after the preliminary hearing.
That hearing was originally scheduled to begin Feb. 13, but it was cancelled when the judge ordered that Littlesun undergo a mental evaluation on the request of one of Littlesun’s defense attorneys, Jodie Gage, who maintained he was mentally incompetent to proceed on the murder charge.
In a report filed with the court on March 12, Darrell Burns of the Edwin Fair Community Mental Health Center wrote that it was his opinion Littlesun was competent to stand trial and had faked incompetency when he was interviewed and tested in the Payne County Jail on March 7.
“The defendant stated he was charged with breaking and entering into a barn. He was shown the information sheet that indicated he is charged with first-degree murder and he replied, ‘This is the first time I had heard that.’
“The defendant is reluctant to address any issue surrounding the current charge of murder in the first-degree. He seems to be motivated to avoid going to prison.
“As will be discussed further in this document, it is the opinion of this examiner that the defendant is malingering (the intentional faking or exaggeration of symptoms for personal gain.) And that the defendant has the capacity to appreciate the nature of the charges against him if he so chooses.
“He admitted to using alcohol every day. He would drink a couple of beers every night and that he had been drinking alcohol his whole life. He claimed that he did not get intoxicated.
“He stated he had not been hospitalized for mental problems. When advised that the record indicated he was hospitalized two times, he replied that he did not remember.
“It is the opinion of this examiner that the defendant can appreciate the nature of the charges against him and that the defendant can rationally assist his attorney in the development of his defense if he so chooses.
“It is also my opinion the defendant is malingering both memory problems and mental symptoms. Therefore, any signs or symptoms of mental illness that he reports will not interfere with his ability to stand trial,” Burns wrote.
Littlesun had been out of prison for about 15 months when he was charged with killing King by repeatedly kicking her in the face, head and torso — while he was wearing steel-toed work boots — and punching her in the face on Dec. 1, 2011.
The victim was partially nude when she was found by Cushing Police Officer Carson Watts, who was sent to the alley of the 100 block of W. Broadway on a call to police at 7:39 a.m. the next day, an affidavit said.
She was wearing two shirts, both of which had been pulled up exposing her bra, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Agent Richard Brown wrote in an affidavit.
Her face was covered in blood with significant swelling and bruising, the affidavit said. The officer was unable to locate a pulse on the woman, who was pronounced dead at the Cushing Regional Hospital about 9:30 a.m. Dec. 2, 2011, the affidavit said.
On the request of the Cushing Police Department, the OSBI’s Crime Scene and Latent Print unit processed the scene — where three palm prints allegedly belonging to Littlesun were developed off a trash container next to the victim’s body, the affidavit said.
That same day, Cushig police spotted Littlesun walking on E. Main Street toward the Wilshire Motel, the affidavit said. Littlesun was initially arrested on an outstanding warrant from Creek County, the affidavit said.
“While being booked into the Cushing City Jail, Ava King’s driver’s license was located inside Littlesun’s wallet,” according to the affidavit.
At the time of the slaying, Littlesun — who got out of prison in 2010 — was serving the probationary part of a five-year sentence for possession of a 2002 pickup stolen from Ausbrook’s Auto in Cushing and attempting to elude Cushing Police Officer Matthew Piatt, both on Jan. 13, 2009.
Littlesun was also serving the probationary part of a concurrent five-year sentence for possession of a stolen vehicle in Drumright in 2008, state Department of Corrections records show.
The slain woman’s sister, Patricia Ann King, and daughter, Tina Carter, both wrote in victim impact statements they want “a life for a life.”
The slain woman’s son, David King, did not answer the question on the victim impact statement, “What are your thoughts regarding the sentence the court should impose on the defendant?”
About Littlesun, the victim’s son wrote, “All he left me of my mother is her memory, ashes, some hair and the continuing running thought of the horrible way she died.”