OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A man is facing murder charges after his car was stolen.
Sunday night on July 3rd, police responded to S.W. 59th and South Francis to a multi-vehicle crash. One of the drivers was transported and then pronounced dead at the hospital.
The injuries were initially unknown, and it was assumed his death was due to injuries sustained during the crash, but as more information was released, that was not the case.
Police say the suspect walked into Plasa Package Liquor Store with his car unlocked and running, then the victim stole the car and started driving.
As the vehicle exited the parking lot, it was struck by another vehicle, causing the wreck.
Investigators later learned from the autopsy that the man who died had a gunshot wound in his upper torso that traveled right to left.
“Investigators have learned that in the process of stealing that vehicle, the vehicle owner had fired a shot, striking the driver, which ultimately caused his death. And he was interviewed and booked into the Oklahoma County Detention Center on a complaint of murder in the first-degree,” said Sgt. Dillon Quirk, assistant PIO, Oklahoma City Police Department.
The suspect, William French, was inside the store, when victim Rickie Lee Clark got into the car and attempted to steal it.
As Clark was driving off, French fired two shots at the vehicle with his pistol. When he fired the second shot, the vehicle swerved into traffic, causing the crash.
OKCPD Homicide Detectives learned the French is a regular customer and knows several of the employees at the business.
Investigators later found out French ran back into the liquor store after firing the shots and gave the pistol to an employee who then hid the pistol inside the bathroom of the store until officers left the scene.
The pistol was then located by the owner of the business, who turned it over to police.
An Oklahoma City criminal defense attorney tells News 4, based on Oklahoma statutes, the stand your ground law, as well as self-defense, would not apply in this scenario.
“In statute, the Oklahoma Stand Your Ground offense contemplates scenarios where somebody is in their house and a robber or a burglar or somebody comes in or when you are being carjacked, when you are occupied or you’re in an occupied vehicle in the situation… Not everything is known at this point, but it appears that the deceased was shot after he had stolen the car, presented a threat to nobody and was fleeing from the scene… But again, it’s very early on in the investigation,” said Carter Jennings, managing attorney of Carter Jennings law firm.
According to the Oklahoma State Court Network, Stand Your Ground can apply when somebody has been forcibly removed or attempted to have been removed from an occupied vehicle.
“Obviously, you shouldn’t go around stealing cars, but based on the facts known at this time, it appears that Oklahoma Stand Your Ground statute would not apply,” said Jennings.
At this point, it’s known that French was inside the liquor store and the vehicle was unoccupied.
“If the defendant is found guilty of murder one in the state of Oklahoma, the three punishments are life, life without parole and death,” said Jennings.
Clark has been arrested several times prior on petty crimes.
We reached out to the owner of the liquor store who declined to comment. She says security cam footage has been given to the police and she refused to give us that footage.