Tahlequah Daily Press

February 15, 2013

Accused killer says wife did the deed

By JOSH NEWTON
Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — A man accused in the brutal murders of two Tahlequah residents denied Thursday that he directly participated in the victims’ deaths, but instead said his wife carried out the deadly attacks on her family.

“I’m gonna leave here with a clear conscience,” 43-year-old Tracy Lee Redford told District Judge Darrell Shepherd. “I didn’t kill anybody.”

Despite denying he was directly involved in the murders of Jesse Catron and Angela Findlay, Tracy Redford pleaded guilty and was given three concurrent life sentences for two counts of second-degree murder and one charge of assault and battery with a deadly weapon.

His wife, 46-year-old Jessie Renee Leppke-Redford, pleaded no contest in January to two counts of first-degree murder and one charge of assault and battery with a deadly weapon. She, too, was handed three life sentences for her role in the double-murder.

On Thursday, Tracy Redford told Shepherd he got into a fight with Catron last August, and then went to “take a breath.” He told the judge he believes he was walking around in the back yard after the fight.

He then recalled seeing his wife cutting the throat of her sister, Findlay, and that of Findlay’s uncle, Catron.

“I guess technically I blacked out,” Tracy Redford said. “I didn’t know she was going to [go] to that extent.”

Jessie Redford has claimed she does not remember killing Catron and Findlay, but also said she can’t argue against the allegations.

But her husband was adamant on Thursday that Catron and Findlay were both “very much alive” after he fought with Catron.

“[As for] me physically killing anyone, I didn’t do it,” he said.

Tracy Redford also claimed that his attack on Muskogee resident Ernest “Lee” Norfleet in the hours following the double-murder was “self-defense.”

Prosecutors alleged the Redfords stabbed Norfleet several times at a Tahlequah motel some time after Catron and Findlay were murdered.

Norfleet told police that Jessie Redford lured him into the motel, went into a bathroom, then came out with her husband.

The Redfords then began to stab Norfleet, which prosecutors have said was likely part of the couple’s plan to steal Norfleet’s vehicle.

But Norfleet fought back and the scuffle spilled into the motel’s parking lot, where he was able to get inside his vehicle and drive himself to a hospital.

Tracy Redford told Shepherd he “acted in self-defense” when he stabbed Norfleet, but acknowledged there was no way to prove what happened inside the motel room.

First Assistant District Attorney Jack Thorp said surveillance video from outside the motel room shows the brutal attack on Norfleet as he tried to flee the advances of the Redfords, all while being stabbed repeatedly in the back.

Tracy Redford must serve 85 percent of his life sentence before he is eligible for parole. Thorp said family members of Catron and Findlay were OK with the plea agreement.

“If he does ever get out, he’ll be 80 years old,” Thorp said.