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An inmate and suspected serial killer was found guilty last week of one of the four Oklahoma murders he’s been accused of committing nearly 25 years ago.
William Lewis Reece, 61, was convicted Friday of both first-degree murder and kidnapping for the 1997 killing of 19-year old Tiffany Johnston, the Houston Chronicle reported. The teen, who had vanished from a car wash in Bethany, Oklahoma, was likely stalked by Reece before her murder. Johnston was the daughter of Reece’s mother’s best friend.
It took jurors only an hour to find Reece guilty, according to the Chronicle. Prosecutors are pushing for the death penalty for the convicted killer.
Assistant Public Defender Jacob Benedict never debated that his client killed Johnston. However, he argued that Reece had only confessed to the killing because a Texas Ranger had told him that doing so would help him avoid a death penalty sentence. His client was "regurgitating" what was told to him, Benedict told the court.
The suspected serial killer still faces additional, equally harrowing charges in Texas. He was charged in Galveston County in 2016 with the kidnapping and killing of two others in the same area — 17-year-old Jessica Cain and 12-year-old Laura Smither. Reece is also suspected of killing 20-year-old Kelli Cox, Houston’s KTRK reported.
"This case was for Tiffany Johnston, but it was also for all the girls. And yeah, I felt tremendous relief to finally have that day in court," Gay Smither, the mother of Laura Smither, told KTRK.
Reece’s sentencing will be a determining factor for the area district attorney as to whether they will hold a trial for the other victims.
Reece was already serving a 60-year prison sentence in Texas for kidnapping when he was charged with murder in 2016. He led police the remains of Cain and Cox that year while confessing to killing all four women in an attempt to escape execution by the state.
"I'm just glad that he can never harm another innocent young woman,” Jessica Cain's father, C.H. Cain, said in a statement on Friday.
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