Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Paddack to Examine Laws after Murder/Suicide

State Sen. Susan Paddack, D-Ada, wants to examine whether stronger laws could have prevented a murder-suicide involving a 16-year-old Ada girl.
The bodies of Caitlin Elizabeth Wooten, 16, and Jerry Don Savage, 47, were found Saturday morning in a partially wooded area southwest of Ada. Authorities believe Savage abducted Wooten from Ada High School Friday afternoon, shot the girl and then killed himself.
Sen. Paddack, said the south-central Oklahoma community is still reeling from the shock of the tragedy and is beginning to ask questions about how it could have happened.
"The people in this community are outraged," Paddack said. "The talk of this community is about what we can do to make sure something like this doesn't happen again.
"Because if it happens in Ada, it can happen anywhere."
Savage, an employee with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, had been released on bond from the Pontotoc County jail on Aug. 30 after prosecutors say he kidnapped Caitlin's mother, Donna Wooten, and threatened to kill her.
"(Donna Wooten) came home from taking her kids to school to get ready to go to work, and he was inside her house," said Pontotoc County Assistant District Attorney Chris Ross. "He took her at gunpoint in her vehicle ... and threatened to kill her."
Ross said Savage also had a "kidnap kit," a bag that included ammunition, duct tape, handcuffs, binoculars, a knife and other items.
Tipped by friends of Donna Wooten who became concerned about her whereabouts, law enforcement officers were able to locate Savage and arrest him.
He later was charged with burglary, kidnapping and two felony weapons charges, Ross said. A judge set Savage's bond at $200,000, but he "bonded out" the next morning, according to Pontotoc County Undersheriff Joe Glover.
"That's really on the high end of a bond amount," Ross said, adding that when bond is set that high, a defendant is "usually not going to see the light of day."
That same day, Donna Wooten obtained a protective order against Savage and left town. Wooten's children, including Caitlin, reportedly were staying with their grandparents in Ada.
Susan Krug, the chief of the victim's services unit in the Attorney General's Office, said in this case, it appears the mother took all the right steps.
"It sounds like in this case, she had a safe place to go ... she reported it and made sure her children were safe," Krug said.
"But this man obviously went off the deep end. There's no law that you can create to stop that. You put strict penalties in place, you give prosecutors tools to work with, but nothing is ever going to keep a twisted person like this from doing something so bizarre."
Paddack said she doesn't know what kind of legislation is needed, but that she plans to ask questions and find out what can be done. She said she plans to examine how bond amounts are set and whether any screening can be conducted to determine whether a defendant poses a threat to society.
"I'm not saying I have the answers, but I plan to ask questions to find out," Paddack said.
"We should not allow these violent individuals to be put back on the streets and harm innocent people in our community."


At 5:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw this story on Dr. Phil yesterday and I could not believe what I was hearing. I don't know what the laws are in any other state, but if they are all the same as yours then they 'ALL' need to be changed. My heart goes out to this family.

At 8:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If a police officer or doctor feels a person may harm themself or another person that person can be admitted to a pysch ward for 72 hours. I think if a person is arrested for a violent crime they should be held for 72 hours. This man held a gun to the mothers head for at least 3 hours and held her against her will. If he was held for 72 hours after his arrest the police may have found out that he was in a mental institution. I also think any crime with a gun should have a "no bond" clause. The times have changed and the laws need to reflect these changes.

At 8:48 PM, Anonymous EDRN in Kentucky said...

I've been and Emergency Department Nurse for many years and unfortunately this type of thing happens all to often. I personally am not that aware of the laws that are out there. This is a reflection of the lack of stiffer penalties with regards to domestic violence. The police and fire fighter/paramedics know that domestic violence calls are some of the most dangerous to respond. I want to get involved and will begin researching in my little space in the world to make changes today.!!

At 6:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ms Paddack did her best to ensure that someone was punished by the "legal system" in Ada Oklahoma. It did not matter what the facts were - just that Ms Paddack got her name in the news. She is a politician with a crooked connections who uses her office to go after people. She is part of the same group written about in John Grisham's book, "The Innocent Man." She didn't care who she sent to jail - as long as it wasn't her buddy the judge who let the crazy man go free.

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