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Oklahoma Governor Looked Into Case as Favor to Sister-in-Law

Matt Trotter

Newly released emails from the office of Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin reveal that she had asked a member of her legal staff to look into the manslaughter case of a former Tulsa reserve deputy as a favor for her sister-in-law.

The Tulsa World reports the governor's office released 14 pages of emails this week showing Fallin's discourse with sister-in-law Jane Vanfossen — a friend of the jailed officer Robert Bates' daughter — and Jennifer Chance, her then-deputy general counsel, over the case.

The emails indicate Vanfossen had forwarded a plea of concern from Bate's daughter to Fallin. An email from the governor noted Chance had researched the case and would contact Bates' family.

Chance later emailed Bates' daughter said the governor couldn't intervene in the case.

Bates was found guilty of second-degree manslaughter for the fatal shooting of Eric Harris in April 2015.