The 2008 shooting deaths of two young girls in a small Oklahoma town riveted people across the state. The randomness of the crime rattled the town of Weleetka, Oklahoma, a small town with fewer than 1,000 citizens.
Best friends Taylor Paschal-Placker, 13, and Skyla Whitaker, 11, were shot a combined thirteen times only a few hundred feet from the Placker home as the girls returned from a walk.
For two and a half years, the slayings were unsolved, making the case one of Oklahoma's most notorious unsolved murders. Now, however, a suspect has been named and charged in the deaths of "the Weleetka girls." Kevin Sweat, 25, of Henryetta, was charged with first degree murder for the killings of the two girls after evidence linking him to the crime was found during an investigation into another murder with which Sweat is charged.
Kevin Sweat was charged with the murder of his fiance, Ashley Taylor, 23. Ashley was last seen on July 15, 2011, when she told family members she was going to Louisiana to marry Sweat. She was reported missing on July 29 when no one had heard from her. Sweat was arrested in late July and admitted to killing his fiance.
Though he told authorities that he cut her throat and pushed her into a lake, her charred remains were found on property belonging to Sweat's father. During the search of the property, investigators found shell casings that matched those found at the crime scene of the Weleetka murders.
Sweat admitted to killing the girls, saying that two "monsters" were approaching him, and he panicked and shot them. Sweat, who is already being held without bond for the killing of Ashley Taylor, has now been charged with the deaths of Taylor Paschal-Placker and Skyla Whitaker.
For many Oklahomans, this is the beginning of a gaining a sense of closure for one of the state's most unsettling crimes, a crime which shook a small town's sense of safety and took the innocence of the roughly 500 students in the Weleetka school district.
Because this is such a high-profile case, Sweat's Oklahoma criminal defense attorney will have to work hard to ensure a fair trial for his or her client. Whether Sweat's claim that the girls were "monsters" is a calculated plan for the insanity defense by a sociopath or the true belief of a deranged mind, his attorney will have to carefully evaluate all evidence for the best possible defense and will have to work diligently to find an impartial jury.
High profile cases that have constant media attention can be a challenge for any attorney, but an experienced Oklahoma defense lawyer can handle the media and the controversy and work to ensure the best outcome for his or her client.