(Stillwater, Okla.) – A Pawnee woman has avoided a March 5 retrial on a felony first-degree murder charge in the drug-related slaying of a Pawnee man north of Stillwater by accepting a plea bargain for a 10-year prison sentence on a reduced count of conspiring with a Pawnee man to rob the alleged methamphetamine dealer.
Sarah Nicole Kelly, 24, of Pawnee, was solemn in court Friday as she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit armed robbery with Jered Lee Holbrook, 30, of Pawnee, who had already been given a 20-year prison term on a reduced charge of second-degree murder in the Feb. 21, 2016, fatal shooting of their acquaintance from Pawnee.
The slain man, James Fields, 30, of Pawnee, reportedly planned to rob Kelly’s alleged drug dealer, Larissa Joy Singleton-Clark, 39, of Stillwater, but was himself fatally shot in the back and torso by her boyfriend, court records show.
Five months ago, Kelly stood trial on the murder charge in Payne County, but the jury notified the judge after six and one-half hours of deliberation that it was deadlocked 8-4, the prosecutor said. Eight jurors had voted guilty and “four were trying to find a reason to find her not guilty,” Payne County First Assistant District Attorney Kevin Etherington told KUSH.
The fatal shooting occurred on the night of Feb. 21, 2016, in the 7800 block of N. Perkins Road north of Stillwater, near the Cimarron Turnpike in a turnabout area where six shell casings from a .40-caliber semi-automatic were collected, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Agent Richard Brown testified in a preliminary hearing.
When Kelly was interviewed after her arrest, she said that on Feb. 21, 2016, “James Fields and Jered Holbrook came to her house and said they wanted to rob a drug dealer. She had purchased meth from Larissa a few days earlier,” OSBI Agent Derek White testified in a preliminary hearing.
Kelly “borrowed a white Dodge Neon and contacted Larissa to arrange a drug transaction. Holbrook drove. Larissa set the meeting location. Larissa’s son arrived, got out, got schitzed out and left. He came back. Fields said he couldn’t find his wallet. He left again and called Larissa,” the OSBI agent testified Kelly told him.
“Larissa agreed she’d do the transaction. The goal was to steal meth from Larissa. Later, Larissa, Larissa’s son and Larissa’s boyfriend arrived in a Jeep. Larissa exited and Larissa sat in the back seat of the Neon. She said Fields and Larissa were discussing when Larissa’s son walked up.
“James Fields pointed the firearm at Larissa’s son and said, ‘give me the dope.’ Larissa and Larissa’s son retreated. The shooting came from the passenger side of the Jeep,” the OSBI agent testified Kelly told him.
“Holbrook drove away with her and Fields in the car. They needed to get rid of the firearm. She did throw it out. They took James Fields to the hospital. She said, ‘I’ll lie to the police, leave out the drug transaction,’” the OSBI agent testified Kelly told him.
Singleton-Clark’s boyfriend, ex-convict Jeffrey Jordan Pennington, 42, of Stillwater, who allegedly shot Fields to death, was himself shot to death in Logan County on Memorial Day of 2016, three weeks after he was released from the Payne County Jail on $100,000 bail after the murder count was dropped against him due to proof problems, the prosecutor said.
After a murder charge was dropped against her, Singleton-Clark pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine for which she was given a 12-year prison term last April, court records show.
Her son, Christopher Thomas Singleton, 22, of Stillwater, pleaded guilty in 2016 to conspiring with his mother and her boyfriend to deliver methamphetamine. He was released from the state prison boot camp for young offenders to seven years’ probation last May – conditioned on his truthful testimony against Kelly and Holbrook, court records show. A felony murder charge had been dropped against Singleton in 2016 due to proof problems, the prosecutor said.
If Kelly had been convicted of felony murder in the first-degree, she could have been sentenced to life in prison with or without parole, court records show.