Sunday, January 8, 2012

Admittedly Cynical About the Oklahoma Self-Defense Case

I suppose I should wait for the Law & Order episode based on Sarah McKinley's "pistol-packing mama" story, but I can't resist ruminating about all the things that don't seem to add up in it.

The first version I read about it was from the Los Angeles Times, which gave the outline:

  • McKinley, an 18-year-old with a 3-month-old child, was home alone in her trailer in rural Oklahoma. Her husband had died of lung cancer recently. 
  • Someone was trying to break into the house (probably looking for prescription painkillers left over from her husband's illness). 
  • She called 911 and, while waiting over 20 minutes for police to arrive, got out two guns. 
  • She asked the 911 dispatcher if it was legal for her to shoot the intruders if they got in the house. The answer was a noncommittal yes.
  • The men did get in, and she shot one of them dead with a shotgun. He had a knife in his hand.
  • The surviving intruder, who fled, has confessed and said he and the dead man were looking for prescription drugs.
My initial questions were:
  • Why did it take the police over 20 minutes to arrive, given the description of the situation, just about the highest priority possible? (I know I live in a city, but when my house was broken into while I was home years ago, the police got there in under five minutes.)
  • When did the police finally arrive?
  • How old was McKinley's husband (since it seems unlikely a young man would die of lung cancer)? I know that isn't necessarily relevant to the case, but I admit I was curious.
  • Did the whole situation really happen the way it was being described, particularly given the fact that McKinley will automatically be elevated to sainthood by Second Amendment supporters?
The best information on the case, not surprisingly, is available from, the online version of The Oklahoman, the daily paper in Oklahoma City, about 30 miles from where McKinley lives. Here are a few more facts:
  • McKinley lives in Blanchard, a town of about 7,500. It's not only 30 miles from Oklahoma City, it's also only 15 miles from Norman, home of the University of Oklahoma. So it's not exactly in the boondocks. Blanchard itself has a police force with 11 officers. For some reason, the dispatcher called the county sheriff first, then later the Blanchard police.
  • McKinley's husband, originally a friend of her family, was 48 years old when he died on Christmas day. She had moved in with him when she was 15 and he was 45. It may have been platonic at first (the story is vague), but "The relationship turned romantic; a marriage license was issued in November." The baby was obviously born in about October.
  • McKinley was estranged from her mother until the baby was born; her mother disapproved (big surprise) of her living arrangement, but has since come around and become more supportive of her daughter.
  • McKinley knew or was at least familar with the 24-year-old man she shot. As she tells it, he may have been stalking her for weeks as her husband was dying, even possibly poisoning the German shepherd puppies she was raising. She had first met him when she was 16 at a rodeo, and had later run into him at a convenience store.
I have yet to see a story that tells how many minutes passed after the shooting before the police arrived. The highly edited version of the 911 tape (it's only two minutes long, so it's not real-time) gives no indication.

Money is now flowing into an account that has been set up for McKinley and her baby.

Clearly, all this may have occurred just as it has been laid out and Sarah McKinley is a Second Amendment hero. But I've watched too many years of L&O, so if it turns out the accomplice's confession was coerced or there was something else going on among all the people involved, I won't be surprised.

1 comment:

Ms Sparrow said...

Thanks for all the detective work!
You answered a lot of questions that I had in my mind. One thing about the situation struck me as strange--the accomplice will be charged with murder since the shooting occurred during commission of a crime.