Friday, June 10, 2005
Killing the wife is only a misdemeanor in Oklahoma
This is truly stunning. I've highlighted the degree of Mrs. Wrabel's injuries.
ALTUS -- The man whose wife's death in April 2004 was termed "violent, unusual and unnatural" in a report by the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is now facing only a misdemeanor charge of domestic abuse - assault and battery.
John Wrabel, 65, had been charged with felony domestic assault and battery following the death of his wife Myrna on April 10, 2004, at Comanche County Memorial Hospital in Lawton, where she was flown by Air-Vac after being beaten April 7, 2004, at the family residence, 15836 S. County Road 206.
At a preliminary hearing conference in the case held April 22, Wrabel appeared with his attorney, Brad Leverett, and the District Attorney's Office reduced the charge to a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment of up to one year or a fine of $3,000, or both.
The "Amended Information" filed by District Attorney John Wampler states that Wrabel committed the abuse "by willfully and unlawfully striking Myrna Wrabel, the spouse, on the head, causing left frontoparietal and temporal acute subdural hematoma in the face, and on her legs and left buttock, causing bruises, with his hands, feet and/or unknown object, with force and violence and with unlawful intent to do Myrna Wrabel corporal hurt and bodily injury."
An autopsy report completed July 28 of last year by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner states that the probable cause of death of Mrs. Wrabel, also 65, was blunt force head trauma.
According to a District Court affidavit filed April 12, 2004, by Deputy Sheriff Carolyn Y. Lee, a little after 3 p.m. that Wednesday, April 7, 2004, Lee saw Mrs. Wrabel in the emergency room at JCMH "with severe bruising to her back, chest, shoulders, upper thighs, buttocks, facial area, head and vaginal area."
Lee wrote that "extreme and violent force had been used" and that the injuries could possibly result in her death.
When an EMT asked Mrs. Wrabel who had beaten her, she was able to mumble that it was her husband John, the report says.
Cindy Sewell, Mrs. Wrabel's nurse at CCMH, stated to Lee in a phone call at about 10:15 a.m. April 8, 2004, that the woman was "very critical" and that she could take a turn for the worse, according to the affidavit.
The Medical Examiner's report states that Mrs. Wrabel was brought to JCMH with "an altered mental status ... Originally she had multiple bruises about the eyes, left jaw, neck, buttocks, left arm and right knee. She was diagnosed with a subgaleal hematoma, and transferred to a second regional hospital (CCMH) for further medical care. Although followed by neurosurgery, she did not undergo any neurosurgical intervention. As it seems, Mrs. Wrabel developed respiratory insufficiency and an overall deterioration in her condition.
"The autopsy revealed multiple areas of obvious blunt force injury around the face and to the left side of the head. There were bilateral subdural hematomas with evidence of cerebral edema, and evidence of cerebral herniation. The bruises around the eyes and to the left side of the head have no specific pattern. The injuries to the scalp demonstrated no evidence of laceration or cranial fracture."
Wrabel has pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charge, and the case is set for the misdemeanor fall pre-trial docket.
And kudos to Daniel Mathewson, asst. managing editor of the Altus Times, who found and wrote this story.
The Comanche County District Attorney is Robert Schulte. His phone number is (580) 585-4444.