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Automatic appeal filed for David Ware's death sentence

David Ware in court for jury selection
Posted at 8:32 AM, May 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-20 09:39:57-04

TULSA, Okla. — David Ware is set to appear in court again after an automatic appeal was officially filed on Thursday.

Ware was on trial for shooting Tulsa Police Sgt. Craig Johnson and Officer Aurash Zarkeshan during a June 2020 traffic stop. Johnson died in the shooting and Zarkeshan went through several months of treatment and rehabilitation due to his injuries.

A jury found Ware guilty on all charges, including a recommendation to sentence him to death. A judge followed the jury's recommendation and officially sentenced Ware to death on May 13.

According to Oklahoma state statute. a death penalty sentencing comes with an automatic appeal before the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Some of the conditions the Court of Criminal Appeals will review in Ware's case will be:

  • Whether the death sentencing was fair or biased under the influence of prejudice, passion, or any other arbitrary factors
  • Whether the evidence supports the ultimate sentencing of a statutory aggravator

There are overall eight aggravators considered, but only one has to be present to consider the death penalty in Oklahoma cases. In Ware's case, the jury considered five aggravators, including the victim murdered was a peace officer, in his sentencing.

Both Ware with his attorneys and the state will present arguments before the Court of Criminal Appeals to determine if the death sentence still stands.

At this time, no date for the appeal has been set. Ware is currently at Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.

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