Oklahoma appeals court upholds 2 separate murder convictions

Shane Vanderpool and Esther Bales

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OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals has upheld two separate murder convictions, including one involving the drowning of a 4-year-old girl.

The court on Thursday upheld the second-degree murder conviction and 20-year prison sentence of 57-year-old Esther Bales for the 2015 drowning of a girl identified only as H.M.P.

The court rejected Bales’ appeal of insufficient evidence that she neglected the girl when she left her and several other children alone at a swim beach at Lake Ponca.

The court also upheld the first-degree murder conviction and life without parole sentence of 41-year-old Shane Vanderpool for the shooting death of Blaine Wells in Tulsa.

Justices rejected Vanderpool’s claims of improper evidence, that state law violates his right to due process and of ineffective counsel.

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