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Advocate calls for resignation of Cleveland County district attorney over handling of Rebecca Hogue case

Rebecca Hogue and her son Jeremiah Ryder Johnson
Kristi Douglas
Rebecca Hogue and her son Jeremiah Ryder Johnson

A Norman woman faces life in prison for a murder even the prosecuting attorney agrees she didn’t commit.

Last week 30-year-old Rebecca Hogue was found guilty of first degree murder for the death of her two-year-old son. Her boyfriend, Christopher Trent, beat the child to death while Hogue was at work on Dec. 31, 2019.

Hogue was prosecuted under Oklahoma’s "failure to protect" law. This law says anyone who enables child abuse is as responsible as the abuser. Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice board member Stacey Wright pointed out Trent started abusing the boy just prior to the murder.

"He denied it and said the child just had an accident. So we're not talking about abuse that went on for months and months. This whole thing unfolded in less than two weeks," Wright said.

District Attorney Greg Mashburn brought the charges against Hogue.

Mashburn also prosecuted a Moore man who put cameras in a popular coffee shop’s restroom. That man was sentenced to only 42 days in jail. Wright says disparities like these are unacceptable, especially since Mashburn has gone on record saying Hogue wasn’t a victim of domestic violence.

"What that says to me is that Mashburn doesn't understand domestic violence. He doesn't understand the complexities and the nuances and the way that domestic violence is often a lot more mental than it is physical," said Wright.

Wright calls Mashburn’s case against Hogue the last straw, and says he should resign.

Cleveland County Judge Michael Tupper oversaw the case. He disallowed certain pieces of evidence, like a recording where the case’s lead detective calls Hogue’s charges nonsense in more colorful language. Wright says decisions like that took away aces Hogue’s advocates were counting on.

The jury suggested a life in prison sentence for Hogue. Tupper will decide in February.

Before joining Public Radio Tulsa, Elizabeth Caldwell was a freelance reporter and a teacher. She holds a master's from Hollins University. Her audio work has appeared at KCRW, CBC's The World This Weekend, and The Missouri Review. She is a south Florida native.