What About Josh?
WHAT ABOUT JOSH?
How much time should an unarmed 17 year old boy serve?
Josh was unsuccessful in his attempt to persuade an armed peer (Robert) that he was with from going back and stealing a car, some distance away at a rural residence they had just departed. After that, the 17 year old Josh refused to go back, distancing himself and not knowing whether or not Robert would go through with his crime. Robert, the armed boy (also 17), went alone to steal the car anyway.
The incident turned into a shootout in which one local resident was killed and another was wounded. The armed boy, who was mortally wounded, returned 50 yards back from the house, where he collapsed and died. The slowly departing Josh, who had ran back towards the scene of the incident when he heard gunfire, caught a glimpse of Robert jumping off the front porch. The terrified Josh then ran off into the woods, fleeing for his life . He was later taken into custody by local authorities.
He should have stayed at the scene of the crime and called the authorities, you say. Yes, this is true, so why didn't he?
First, he knew there was an agitated armed resident still nearby. He was confused and afraid.
Second, just four months before, Josh watched in fear and horror as his older brother was fatally shot in the head by their drunken father. Josh held his brother in his arms as he bled to death.
Before the court proceedings that followed, Josh learned that the district attorney wanted him to receive the death penalty. During the court proceedings, the district attorney realized, through the discrepancies of his own witness, including altering his official testimony, that he could not impose the death penalty.
To the DA's advantage, the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System (OIDS) came to him looking for a plea bargain, they had ran out of funds and could not get their Specialist to bring their findings to jury trial.
Since they had failed to file a motion for a "Change of Venue", their selection of a fair and impartial jury had been severely limited. The DA then changed his sentence request to life without parole or enter into a plea bargain under which the boy would spend 75 years in state prison and be eligible for parole in 7 -10 years.
Joshua was never told about the funding problems of the OIDS. Josh's mother learned of her son's dilemma when she read a newspaper article that incorrectly identified Josh as the dead suspect, among other facts. A few hours later she discovered that Josh was still alive.
Four months or so and some 12 newspaper articles later (some pictorial). She requested a change of venue. The Assistant District Attorney informed her that she was "neither rich enough, nor famous enough to request a change of venue". In conjunction with that, Josh's court-appointed attorney advised him to accept the plea bargain.
Now here comes the question: What was the boy's crime? Guilt by association is NOT valid. Fleeing the scene of the crime? Absolutely, but this offense certainly doesn't dictate 75 years.
Regardless, this frantic 17 year old boy, without anywhere near sufficient information to make an informed decision about his plea, took the 75 year sentence in lieu of the death penalty. As the true testimony came to light, Josh could not have been given the death penalty after all. After serving 6 of the 75 years without incident, Josh is facing 10 more years for an act of self-defense. In an all to common prison scenario, hurt or be hurt, Josh has been charged with assault, an incident that would have never occurred had justice been properly served in the first place.
The point is, and always has been, that Robert Anderson, the person who committed the killing, and attempted robbery is dead and Josh Stump, who didn't, is serving Robert's sentence. Josh has given seven years of his life for refusing to carry out that crime on July 15,1995. On that date he became a victim, too. He will be present at the Payne County Courthouse in Stillwater, Oklahoma on August 21, 2002, at 10:00 am for this latest incident along with a court-appointed lawyer.
For more information on the case, check Lincoln County, Oklahoma, case # C-95-104, Joshua Stump. It won't take long to see that something is terribly wrong. In our opinion, Oklahoma's "Fair Defense Act" has been severely compromised and corrective action must be taken. Freeing Josh is a great start.
Virginia (Ginger) Gonzalez