A man charged with murder waived a jury trial and will plead guilty to manslaughter next week.
Aram Catron appeared in Cherokee County District Court on Thursday before District Judge Doug Kirkley for a motion hearing. He instead waived a jury trial and will plead to manslaughter. He will also be sentenced to 25 years and credited for time served.
Catron, 36, of Kansas, Oklahoma, allegedly fled law enforcement officers following a shoplifting incident at Walmart in January 2018. He is accused of driving his truck at a high speed through Tahlequah streets and plowing into another vehicle, driven by Malinda Jane Phillips, 36, Park Hill. Phillips died from her injuries.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol traffic homicide investigator Robert Francis said during the preliminary hearing that based on the evidence, Catron appeared to have been traveling at 80 mph at the time of impact. Catron was critically injured in the collision, but checked out of a Tulsa hospital before the probe was completed and charges were brought. He was later taken into custody in McDonald County, Missouri.
District Attorney Jack Thorp said the victim's husband, Scott Phillips, was present during the hearing and agreed to the plea.
"I expect he will make a victim impact statement next Thursday before sentencing," said Thorp.
The jury trial was scheduled for 9 a.m. on Sept. 16. Catron will be sentenced on Sept. 12.