Murder Charge Filed after Fatal High Speed Chase

A failed bank robbery and an attempt to elude police ended in a murder charge for an Oklahoma man who caused a fatal accident during a high speed chase. Harry Francis Dishmon, 50, was charged with second degree murder in Ottawa County District Court after he allegedly crashed his car fleeing police, causing a truck driver to take evasive action, overturning the truck and killing him. James Carl Wivell, 48, of Longmont, Colorado, was pinned in his truck for 15 minutes, and he died on the scene of massive trauma. Police say Dishmon attempted to rob an IBC Bank in Miami, Oklahoma, by passing a note to the teller which read, "I have a gun. I want all your money." Apparently, police say, Dishmon then got cold feet and ran away, never displaying a gun or collecting any money. A teller noted the make, model, and tag number of the vehicle in which Dishmon allegedly fled. Police pursued the suspect at high speed northbound on U.S. 69 north of Quapaw. The driver crashed and then fled on foot into the words. Wivell, who was headed south, swerved to avoid the crashed vehicle. His rig overturned, causing fatal injuries. Dishmon was apprehended in a wooded area near the Oklahoma-Kansas border. He was booked into the Ottawa County Jail and charged with murder in the second degree. Oklahoma law defines four categories of homicide, including murder, manslaughter, excusable homicide, and justifiable homicide. Murder, the most egregious of homicide charges, is divided into degrees: Murder in the First Degree and Murder in the Second Degree. While many people believe that first degree murder charges are filed for any death that occurs during the commission of a felony, state law explicitly defines which felonies warrant a first degree murder charge if a death occurs in the act or attempt:

  • Another murder or attempted murder
  • Shooting with intent to kill
  • Discharging a weapon into a building
  • Forcible rape
  • Armed robbery
  • Kidnapping
  • Escaping from custody
  • Eluding police
  • First degree burglary
  • First degree arson
  • Drug distribution, manufacturing, or trafficking
If a death occurs in the commission of an unspecified felony, second degree murder charges are typically filed. Often, the complaint on which a person is arrested does not match the criminal charge eventually filed by the District Attorney. Frequently, prosecutors will file the most serious charges possible, with the knowledge that a skillful defense lawyer can successfully negotiate a plea bargain or reduced charges. In Dishmon's case, it sounds as if lesser charges may have been filed pending an investigation. If the outcome of the investigation leads a prosecutor to believe he or she could win a conviction for a more serious crime, charges may be amended at any time during the case. It is critical to have the representation of defense counsel who can expertly defend against any related charge. Click here to find an attorney qualified to handle challenging criminal cases.

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