PURCELL, Okla. (KFOR) – Jurors learned more on Thursday about the murder of a young and pregnant mother’s murder after watching hours of interrogation videos and reading text messages. The alleged motive was a stolen backpack.
Joshua Finkbeiner is facing two counts of first degree murder. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
On the third day of prosecution, jurors learned in late April of 2018, Shaliyah Toombs, 23, borrowed Stacy Harjo’s white Jeep Grand Cherokee to go to a doctor’s appointment.
Investigators said Harjo and her boyfriend, Joshua Finkbeiner, believed Toombs stole Finkbeiner’s backpack out of the Jeep. In interrogation videos, Finkbeiner told investigators the backpack contained a hard hat, tools, electronics, and hard drives for work.
Jurors saw text messages that showed Harjo told Toombs that Finkbeiner was enraged and scared he would lose his job without the items.
In the text messages, Toombs said she didn’t see the backpack in the car, only his work boots. Toombs also told Harjo she’d never steal from the couple.
“She’s a good person. She has a good heart,” said Twyla Taylor, Toombs’ mother.
The couple later confronted Toombs at her Oklahoma City apartment, while she was hanging out with her friend, Daniel Vasquez.
Finkbeiner, Harjo, Toombs, and Vasquez all got in Finkbeiner’s black truck to search for the backpack. They drove around nearly all night.
That’s when Taylor said she got a disturbing text from her daughter.
“It was disturbing initially. It was just like she’s in trouble,” said Taylor.
Jurors watched interrogation video of Finkbeiner telling investigators how Toombs died. Over the hours, Finkbeiner differed on how long he strangled Toombs. He said the young mother screamed out “Please don’t!” and “I’m sorry, Josh!”
Finkbeiner said it was ultimately Vasquez who strangled Toombs to death. In those same videos, he admitted Harjo told Vasquez to “finish her off” which he had previously denied repeatedly.
Vasquez then left with Toombs’ body in the floorboard of Finkbeiner’s car. He was found days later in Goldsby after telling police he ran out of gas.
“When we found her in the vehicle, she had been there several days,” said Detective David Thompkins, with the McClain County Sheriff’s Office.
A friend then gave Finkbeiner and Harjo an old dealership tag to put on Harjo’s car before the couple drove to Arkansas. Days later, they were arrested there and taken in to custody.
Prosecutors also showed the jury a letter Finkbeiner thought he was writing to Toombs’ mother, but it was actually for detectives. Finkbeiner wrote he was sorry for what they did and that they were only trying to scare Toombs.
Vasquez was convicted of two counts of first degree murder in 2021. He was sentenced to the death penalty.
Stacy Harjo is still in jail being held on murder charges.