(Stillwater, Okla.) — A preliminary hearing for a 97-year-old man charged with first-degree murder in the shotgun slaying of his great-granddaughter at his rural Cushing residence was postponed today due to his medical condition.

    A large number of family and friends of Russell Eugene Dawes, who was not present for his scheduled hearing, were in the courtroom today when District Attorney Tom Lee told KUSH that the case was reset to May 21.

    Dawes, who has been jailed without bail since he was arrested for allegedly killing 30-year-old Sonja Rose James on Dec. 5, 2013, has been “in and out of the hospital since he’s been here,” Payne County Undersheriff Garry McKinnis said today.

    “He does breathing treatments every day,” the undersheriff added.

    Sheriff’s Captain Reese Lane told KUSH today, “The staff are extremely attentive to him. We check on him at least every 15 minutes, 24 hours a day.

    “He’s had recurring issues with breathing. We try to keep him sitting up. We exercise him. He’s seen by a nurse every day,” Reese added.

    According to the undersheriff, Dawes told Cushing funeral director Rodger Floyd that the victim, who was living with him, possibly as his caretaker, “had beaten him and he was tired of it.”

    Dawes appeared to have two black eyes when he was jailed, the undersheriff said.

    More than $29,000 in cash, as well as a check for $27,353.91 that was issued to Dawes by a Cushing bank on the day before the slaying, was found in the house, investigators said.

    “It appears that a 410 shotgun was the murder weapon. We believe it was fired one time,” Sheriff’s Investigator Larry Kitchel said.

    The victim, who was found in her bed, was struck in the chin and right cheek after being shot from less than 10 feet away, Sheriff’s Deputy George Disel said.

***