TULSA — Two men treated the mass shootings in Tulsa that killed three black people and wounded two more as a contest, the uncle of one of the men charged testified Wednesday.
Timothy Hoey, the uncle of 19-year-old Jake England and an inmate in the Tulsa County Jail, testified during a preliminary hearing that Alvin Watts told him that he and England were trying to see who could shoot the most people the night of April 6.
Hoey said Watts told him a day after the killings that Watts and England each shot two people and England shot the fifth victim “that would break the tie,” Hoey said. Hoey also testified that the day after the shootings, England used racial slurs to describe whom they shot.
England, 19, and Watts, 33, face murder and hate crimes charges stemming from the Easter weekend shootings that killed William Allen, Bobby Clark and Dannaer Fields as they were walking near their homes.
The shootings happened in a predominantly black section of the city and all of the victims were black. Watts is white and England identifies himself as Cherokee Indian. Authorities believe England may have targeted black people because he wanted to avenge his father’s shooting death by a black man two years ago.
The preliminary hearing, which will determine whether prosecutors have enough evidence to proceed with a trial, will be continued until Aug. 14. Tulsa County Special Judge David Youll is considering motions made by defense attorneys alleging that police took statements from England and Watts in violation of their constitutional rights.
First Assistant District Attorney Doug Drummond flatly denied those assertions late Wednesday, calling such motions “routine” for defense attorneys.
Hoey, 40, took the witness stand in wrist shackles and told prosecutors that he is jailed on several charges — including false impersonation — in several states. He also said he was not promised anything in return for his testimony, but said that it was in his best interest.
Prosecutors called 13 witnesses Wednesday, including family members, police investigators and relatives of the victims.
Cindy Wilde, the mother of England’s ex-girlfriend, was the first to testify Wednesday morning. She had sold England a pistol a few weeks before the shootings.
When Wilde heard about the shootings on the news, she confronted England and asked him if he would ever do something like that.
“Yes, I might have,” Wilde testified that England said.
Wilde said she asked England what had happened that night and England told her he was headed to a casino, shot somebody, then went to the casino and then shot some more people.
“I said, ‘Oh my God, you didn’t use my pistol?’ ” Wilde testified.
She said England replied “Yes, I did,” but told Wilde not to worry because “they’ll never, ever find it.” She later went to the police.
Later, the packed courtroom heard testimony from people who discovered the shooting victims.
Resident Tina Cobb heard a gunshot outside her home, saw a white pickup drive down the road and saw a woman, later identified as Fields, lying sideways in the grass.
“She was lifting her head to try to talk,” Cobb testified, tears streaming down her cheeks. Cobb said she sat with Fields and held her hand until help arrived, but Cobb still was in fear.
“I’m scared because we’re still hearing shots, the first one was a single one, and two again and they sounded real close still,” she testified. “It was scary enough that we didn’t know what to do.”
The shootings took place within a few miles of each other, police said.
North Tulsa resident Norman Clark described losing his brother, Bobby Clark, and finding his body under a streetlight.
“I was hoping it wasn’t him,” Clark testified. “I listened to his heart. I thought I heard a heartbeat. There was no blood; we thought he got hit by a car or hit in the head or had a heart attack.”
Watts and England sat apart from each other, with England and his legal team sitting at a table at one end of the room and Watts and his team of public defenders occupying chairs in the jury box.
As testimony — at times emotional — was given, England and Watts sat stone-faced, sometimes looking down at the floor. Watts occasionally took notes on a yellow legal pad. England frequently rested his chin in his hand.