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A Prosecutor Helps A Felon Get Out Of Town

Before I was elected District Attorney, one of my predecessors was an able lawyer named Gene Ritter, now deceased.

Prosecutors in those days served only one county, not five as they do now. So, Gene was County Attorney for Carter County.

Gene had prosecuted a man I’ll call Bob Jones and sent him to prison several times for various crimes.

Gene had a speaking engagement at the Healdton Lions Club that started at noon, so he left Ardmore about 11:30.

At the Healdton/Wilson Y, Gene planned to turn right on the way to Healdton. At the Y, he saw Bob, with his thumb up, obviously seeking a ride west. As one would expect, Gene stopped and engaged Bob in a conversation.

“Bob, where are you going?”

“Mr. Ritter, I’ve had it with Carter County. I get arrested every time I turn around, for crimes I didn’t commit. I’m leaving and going to California where nobody knows me. I’m starting a new life.”

Gene was touched by Bob’s obvious sincerity. “Bob, I think that’s a good idea. Here’s a $20 bill to help you.”

So, the County Attorney gave the man he had sent to prison several times the money and bid him farewell. He then motored on to Healdton and gave the attendees a rousing talk about prosecuting lawbreakers.

Gene arrived back in Ardmore about 2:30 and found the Sheriff and Police Chief waiting in his office. They were obviously upset.

“Where in hell have you been?” Asked the Chief.

“Why?” Asked Gene.

“That damned Bob Jones robbed two grocery stores and left town. We got a witness who saw him at the Healdton/Wilson Y talking to a man who handed him something, we don’t know what. Do you have any ideas what to do?” Asked the Sheriff.

“No, I don’t have a clue,” replied Gene.

-james a clark