Genuine evil exists in this world. Law enforcement officers try to prevent it from happening to the best of their ability and within the confines allowed by law. Beyond that, the penal system exists to exact retributive justice and to keep offenders away until they’ve served their time and can re-enter society without endangering others.
These should all be uncontroversial statements. If you don’t think so, for whatever reason, the case of Lawrence Paul Anderson stands a good chance of changing your mind.
On Tuesday, according to The Associated Press, an Oklahoma judge denied bail for Anderson, who stands accused of the Feb. 9 killing of 41-year-old Andrea Lynn Blankenship, 67-year-old Leon Pye and 4-year-old Kaeos Yates.
An alleged triple murder is bad enough, but the lurid details of the crime — and the fact that Anderson was only free because he had been let out of prison in January after serving just three years of what was supposed to be a 20-year sentence — raises serious questions about who gets let out of prison early, particularly in light of the pandemic.
According to The Oklahoman, Anderson is accused of committing the murders in Chickasha, 35 miles from Oklahoma City. Authorities with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said he killed Blankenship, his neighbor, first.
From there, the details in the court documents take a turn to the unspeakable.
“He took the heart back to 214 West Minnesota, Chickasha,” an agent told a judge in a request for a search warrant.
“He cooked the heart with potatoes to feed to his family to release the demons.”
The home at 214 West Minnesota was Anderson’s aunt and uncle’s.
Police responded to a 911 call at the address and forced their way into the house after hearing a woman’s screams. Leon Pye, Anderson’s 67-year-old uncle, was already dead and 4-year-old Yates was critically injured, The Oklahoman reported.
“She was pronounced deceased in the ambulance on scene,” the OSBI agent wrote in the request for the search warrant, according to The Oklahoman.
Anderson’s aunt, Delsie Pye, had stab wounds in one eye, The Oklahoman reported.
It wasn’t until Feb. 11 that the murder of Blankenship — and the unspeakable circumstances surrounding it — became known after an OSBI agent interviewed Anderson in his hospital bed in Oklahoma City.
“He confessed to going to 227 West Minnesota Avenue, Chickasha,” the agent wrote in his report, according to The Oklahoman.
“He used his shoulder to knock in the back door. There were two German Shepherd dogs in the house. Anderson advised he killed the female resident and cut her heart out.”
When Anderson made an appearance in court on Tuesday, he sobbed and refused bail, even though none was likely to be forthcoming.
“I don’t want no bail, your honor. I don’t want no bail,” he told the judge, according to The Oklahoman.
We’ve established evil, I daresay. We’ve established that law enforcement did what it could — and did so heroically, saving the life of Anderson’s aunt. The criminal justice system cannot be so lauded.
On Friday, The Oklahoman reported that Anderson — a convicted cocaine dealer — had been ordered back to prison for 20 years in 2017 because he had been found with a firearm and using drugs. His probation and parole officer said he “remains a threat to both society and himself.”
Nor was this his first time in prison. In 2006, he was sentenced to four years for an attack on his girlfriend, including pointing a gun at her, The Oklahoman reported. He also possessed crack cocaine with intent to distribute. He served less than half that time.
In 2012, he was sentenced to 15 years for selling crack cocaine near a school, with 20 years probation to follow. He was released in five years.
When he was let out, he allegedly confronted a woman in a church parking lot by pulling a gun on her. Not only was he not allowed to possess a firearm, he was also in possession of PCP. His probation was revoked, so he was sentenced to the remaining 20 years and he was also sentenced for other crimes.
After all that, last June, GOP Gov. Kevin Stitt commuted his most recent sentence to nine years upon being told Anderson was going to move to Texas to work in the oil fields for his son-in-law and to be close to his daughter, The Oklahoman reported. Anderson was released in January of this year even though the plans of his release were changed; now, he was going to be living with his aunt and uncle in Chickasha.
However, The Oklahoman reported that an attorney for the Pye family said the couple had no idea Anderson was listing their home as his new address.
“They were surprised to see him just show up, that he was out,” said the attorney, Robert Wagner, according to the newspaper. “They had no prior knowledge that he was being released and they had never consented to him listing their address as his home.”
While the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recommended commutation 3-1 and there were no protests from the district attorney on record, Grady County District Attorney Jason Hicks is incensed Anderson was back out on the street.
“This has to be addressed by the legislature, sooner rather than later, because more people are going to get killed,” Hicks said, according to The Oklahoman. “We’re seeing this all over the state. Repeat offenders go to prison. They’re not there very long. And they come home and they’re committing crimes just like this.”
Hicks said he didn’t even know whether his office was notified of the commutation request, The Oklahoman reported. However, he noted prosecutors had been steadfast in insisting Anderson was enough of a danger he should serve out his sentence.
“How many times do we have to object?” Hicks said, according to The Oklahoman.
“I don’t know why it is the parole board and everybody else thinks we ought to have to object to these things every step of the way. I mean, we do our job and get them into prison. And then we tell them, ‘This is somebody that’s really bad and they need to stay there.’ But that’s not good enough.
“We shouldn’t have to do anything else to keep them in prison. We shouldn’t have to do anything else.”
There’s a marked difference between criminal justice reform and letting a man caught with a firearm and charged with other offenses out of prison three years into a 20-year sentence — particularly when, within the space of a month, he’s charged with a triple murder scenario too grotesque to contemplate. There was nothing draconian about the sentence Anderson was serving.
Now, three innocent people are dead, including a 4-year-old girl, and, if Anderson is responsible, the revolving door has likely been shut for good.
The death penalty “is on the table,” Hicks told the Oklahoman.
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