UNITED STATES NEWS

Video shows Oklahoma judge texting and scrolling on phone in trial over fatal beating of 2-year-old

Jul 20, 2023, 12:52 PM | Updated: 3:28 pm

CHANDLER, Okla. (AP) — A new judge in Oklahoma is facing scrutiny after courtroom video showed her scrolling through social media and texting on her cellphone throughout the murder trial for a man accused in the fatal beating of a 2-year-old, a newspaper reports.

Security video obtained by The Oklahoman shows Lincoln County District Judge Traci Soderstrom texting or messaging for minutes at a time during jury selection, opening statements and testimony in the trial for a man in the death of his girlfriend’s son. At one point, Soderstrom searched for a GIF, an animated image.

Soderstrom, 50, can also be seen checking Facebook during the trial, which began last month in Chandler, about 45 miles (72 kilometers) northeast of Oklahoma City, the newspaper reported.

Soderstrom was sworn in on Jan. 9 after being elected in November. Her four-year term expires in January 2027.

Soderstrom declined to comment to the newspaper because the verdict could still be appealed, saying judges are prohibited from discussing pending cases. A request for comment from The Associated Press was not immediately returned Thursday.

The trial ended in a second-degree manslaughter conviction for Khristian Tyler Martzall in the 2018 death of Braxton Danker. Prosecutors had asked jurors to find him guilty of first-degree murder.

Sheriff Charlie Dougherty said Wednesday that at the request of the Oklahoma Council on Judicial Complaints, he provided the state agency with video from the trial. The council receives and investigates accusations of misconduct by judges.

Taylor Henderson, the council’s director, said that by law, their investigations “are similar to the grand jury, and they are to be held in secrecy.” She said they cannot say whether or not they are conducting an investigation.

The sheriff said the cameras were placed in the courtroom for safety reasons. He said there’s no sound on the video, which is monitored by his office.

District Attorney Adam Panter said he reviewed the video after getting a tip from courthouse personnel. He said he found the judge “spent hours of the trial” texting and scrolling on her cell phone.

“It is both shocking and disappointing,” he told the newspaper. “Jurors are banned from using cellphones in the courtroom during trials because we expect them to give their full time and attention to the evidence being presented. I would expect and hope the court would hold itself to the same standard required of the jurors, regardless of the type of case.”

Panter said he never saw her using the phone. The videos show that the judge held the phone in her lap and below the top of the judge’s bench while using it or set it down in an open drawer.

Defense attorney Velia Lopez said the judge did a great job, and she never saw the judge on the phone.

United States News

Associated Press

Kidnapped teen rescued from Southern California motel room after 4 days of being held hostage

SANTA MARIA, Calif. (AP) — Authorities rescued a 17-year-old boy in Southern California after he was kidnapped and held hostage for four days by captors who threatened to harm him if his family did not pay a $500,000 ransom. The teen was rescued Friday after law enforcement tracked him and his three kidnappers to a […]

25 minutes ago

This Aug. 17, 2021 photo shows Quagga mussels cover the engine of a Bell P-39 Airacobra military pl...

Associated Press

Historians race to find Great Lakes shipwrecks before quagga mussels destroy the sites

An invasive mussel is destroying shipwrecks deep in the depths of the lakes, forcing archeologists and amateur historians into a race against time to find as many sites as they can before the region touching eight U.S. states and the Canadian province of Ontario loses any physical trace of its centuries-long maritime history.

59 minutes ago

A sign marks a roadside rest stop that has been made to look like the historic security gate that a...

Associated Press

Birthplace of the atomic bomb braces for its biggest mission since the top-secret Manhattan Project

Los Alamos was the perfect spot for the U.S. government’s top-secret Manhattan Project.

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Suspect arrested after shooting at the Oklahoma State Fair injures 1, police say

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — One person was injured when shots were fired during an argument between two groups of people at the Oklahoma State Fair on Saturday, sending a crowd of people running for safety, police said. One person was arrested on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon after the evening shooting, Oklahoma […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Former NHL player Nicolas Kerdiles dies after a motorcycle crash in Nashville. He was 29

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Former NHL player Nicolas Kerdiles died Saturday after a motorcycle crash in Nashville, according to police. He was 29. The one-time hockey player for the Anaheim Ducks drove his motorcycle through a stop sign early Saturday and hit the driver’s side of an SUV, according to the Metro Nashville Police Department. […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Hazing lawsuit filed against University of Alabama fraternity

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — A student and his parents have filed a lawsuit against a University of Alabama fraternity, saying he suffered a traumatic brain injury while being hazed as a fraternity pledge earlier this year. The lawsuit filed last week accuses Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and others associated with it of fraud, negligence and […]

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DAY & NIGHT AIR CONDITIONING, HEATING AND PLUMBING

Importance of AC maintenance after Arizona’s excruciating heat wave

An air conditioning unit in Phoenix is vital to living a comfortable life inside, away from triple-digit heat.

Sanderson Ford...

Sanderson Ford

Sanderson Ford congratulates D-backs’ on drive to great first half of 2023

The Arizona Diamondbacks just completed a red-hot first half of the major league season, and Sanderson Ford wants to send its congratulations to the ballclub.

...

re:vitalize

When most diets fail, re:vitalize makes a difference that shows

Staying healthy and losing weight are things many people in Arizona are conscious of, especially during the summer.

Video shows Oklahoma judge texting and scrolling on phone in trial over fatal beating of 2-year-old