The Phillips & Associates Oklahoma Law Blog


We have ore than 50 years of experience
By Dustin Phillips on
February 15, 2014
February 5, 2020

Saying that he did not "trust the system," a man once accused of first degree murder in his wife's killing pleaded guilty to manslaughter against the advice of his attorney.Justin Adams received two 10-year suspended sentences--one each for the deaths of his wife Jaymie Adams and her unborn child. In exchange for his guilty plea, �his incarceration is limited to the six months he spent in jail after initially being charged with two counts of first degree murder.The case began on December 10, 2011, when Adams called to report his wife missing. As police began investigating the disappearance of Jaymie, a pregnant mother of four, Justin became uncooperative and was determined to be untruthful in his conversations with police. When Jaymie's body was found four weeks later near Lake Stanley Draper, her husband was charged with the murders of Jaymie and the fetus.Justin remained in jail from the time of his January arrest until July, when a judge finally granted bond, and allowed him to bail out of jail. Approximately ten months later, police discovered DNA evidence linking another man to Jaymie's body and arrested Richard Cyr, charging him with the murders instead.Despite being confronted with evidence that Justin was not, in fact, the person who stabbed Jaymie 29 times and broke her jaw in three places, prosecutors were not content to let Adams go free.Because the investigation revealed that Jaymie's death occurred when meeting someone as a prostitute, and that Justin had assisted in her prostitution through Craigslist, the district attorney's office felt that he was culpable in her death. They charged him with two counts of manslaughter for aiding and abetting Jaymie in prostitution, criminal conduct that resulted in her death.Although Justin Adams's attorney recommended that his client fight the charges at trial, the former murder suspect felt that his faith in the judicial system was shaken after spending six months in jail, denied bond, for a crime he did not commit, only to be charged with a lesser, related offense after DNA linked someone else to the crime. He said that he did not want to take his chances with a jury, and he pleaded guilty, earning two manslaughter convictions, in order to avoid any further time behind bars."Felony murder" is the term given to a death that occurs during the commission of a specified felony, whether or not the homicide was intentional or malicious. It is through this section of Oklahoma criminal law that a person can be charged with first degree murder in the death of his or her accomplice in a crime, even if the accomplice was killed by a victim acting in self defense.While many people have heard of felony murder, fewer know that first degree manslaughter charges may be filed when a death occurs in the commission of a misdemeanor. According to 21 O.S. 711:Homicide is manslaughter in the first degree in the following cases:

  1. When perpetrated without a design to effect death by a person while engaged in the commission of a misdemeanor.
  2. When perpetrated without a design to effect death, and in a heat of passion, but in a cruel and unusual manner, or by means of a dangerous weapon; unless it is committed under such circumstances as constitute excusable or justifiable homicide.
  3. When perpetrated unnecessarily either while resisting an attempt by the person killed to commit a crime, or after such attempt shall have failed.

It is through this statute that Justin Adams was held criminally responsible for the death of his wife and unborn child. Prostitution is a misdemeanor, and since prosecutors alleged he was an active participant, aiding her in committing the misdemeanor, he was culpable in her death.


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