Claremore Daily Progress

February 10, 2013

DA Wyant steps in for Steidley again

Personal conflict creates complications

Salesha Wilken
Claremore Progress

CLAREMORE — District Attorney Eddie Wyant is once again stepping in for District Attorney Janice Steidley.

Wyant, District Attorney for Ottawa County and Delaware County, recently took on a 2012 Rogers County Wildlife case involving the illegal possession and hunting of two whitetail deer.

Attorney General Scott Pruitt assigned the case to Wyant on Dec. 10, due to a conflict of interest between District Attorney Janice Steidley and the defendants.

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, ODWC issued citations dated Nov. 20 to Ray Smith, Janice Steidley’s brother and Attorney Larry Steidley, her spouse, creating a conflict of interest for the prosecutor.

This is the second time in 2012, Wyant has been asked to step in for Steidley. He is currently working with the OSBI in the investigation of Commissioners Kirt Thacker and Mike Helm.

However, this is not the first time a Rogers County District Attorney has asked for assistance outside the county.

There were only a few cases during his term, former District Attorney Gene Haynes said, “sometime you just don’t have a choice.”

A family member, staff, or even their family can cause a conflict, he added.

“There were some cases occasionally, most of them are situational,” Haynes said.

Haynes also explained that the district attorney could have some input in who takes the case.

“It is pretty common practice for a DA to call another DA and request that they take on the case,” Haynes said.

The attorney general can then choose to approve that request, he added.

First Assistant District Attorney Bryce Lair told the Claremore Progress that he sent Larry Steidley’s case to Wyant.

Before joining Janice Steidley’s office, Lair worked as an Assistant DA for Wyant.

Wyant will continue to have a role in both Rogers County cases and his office is currently reviewing investigative reports involving Helm and Thacker.

Additionally, Wyant reached an agreement on Jan. 28 to delay the prosecution of Larry Steidley and Smith and will be supervising their one-year probation period.

Both defendants made an admission of guilt in the wildlife case and reaching an agreement to, serve one year of probation, to pay restitution and court fees, according to the court documents.

The delayed prosecution agreements also include certain privacy features for the defendants.

The citations and court records are not available through the state of Oklahoma’s online court records system.

Additionally, after the one-year probation period, “the file of the accused shall be sealed and not be released or viewed except on a limited basis by law enforcement or prosecution personnel for the purposes of determining if the accused has committed a new criminal offense,” according to the deferred prosecution agreement.

The Claremore Daily Progress obtained the court documents detailing the agreement between Wyant and the defendants, via open records request.

Wyant only released a portion of the file, denying the request for a copy of the arresting officer’s report.

The ODWC was contacted for more information. ODWC officials released a copy of the report to the Claremore Daily Progress.

According to the report Larry Steidley brought two large deer, an eight point and a 10-point to Shrum’s Taxidermy in Claremore.

“Neither deer had the check station information or the individuals hunting license number with it as required,” the officer writes.

Both sets of antlers and the taxidermist’s invoices were seized as evidence, according to the document.

Larry Steidley was registered with the ODWC with a valid hunting license at the time.

Smith is not a resident of the state and did not posses a hunting license.

The ODWC offers hunting licenses on their website, www.wildlifedepartment.com.

A valid driver’s license or social security number can be used to register, according to the website.

Fines for a non-resident hunting without a license can range from $200 to $500, plus court cost.

Fines for illegal possession of a deer range from $750 to $1250 and could include up to 30 days imprisonment in the county jail.

Other penalties for illegal hunting can include the forfeiture of guns, vehicles or other equipment and hunting privileges can be suspended for up to 10 years, according to Title 29 Section 5402 of the Oklahoma state statutes.

Larry Steidley’s hunting license was not suspended as a result of the case.