Two Oklahoma men were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Monday, for the race-based killing of three black people whom they shot indiscriminately from a car in Tulsa, Okla., on April 6, 2012, prosecutors said.
Five black people, including a woman, were shot in the chest that day, and three died, in the incident, which drew national attention and raised questions about racial tensions in the state decades after the United States implemented major civil rights reforms, prosecutors said in a statement.
Alvin Lee Watts, 34, and Jacob Carl England, 21, who are white, were given the life sentence as part of a plea bargain to avoid the death penalty, the statement said. The pair also pleaded guilty to hate-crimes charges.
“Justice is served by this result,” Doug Drummond, the Tulsa County first assistant district attorney, said in a statement. “These killers will spend the rest of their life behind bars.”
Dannaer Fields, Bobby Clark and William Allen were killed in the incident; David Hall and Deon Tucker were also shot but survived. The five were gunned down within hours of each other, within the same general area of the city.
The gunmen were self-employed labourers and did not know any of their victims, police said.
In court on Monday, England read a letter of apology to “the families of the victims and the African-American community,” the Tulsa World newspaper reported.
Addressing relatives of the victims, England said he was sorry that his “chaotic and self-destructive” path had cost them their loved ones, the paper said.
Watts did not make a statement, it said.
The pair received sentences of life without parole for murdering the three, and life sentences for shooting the other two.