Judge dismisses charges

Following a preliminary hearing Monday morning, Special District Judge Matt Orendorff dismissed charges against Robert C. Ward Sr. and his wife Julie Ward for harboring a fugitive.

Because the charges stemmed from the same incident, the two cases were being heard jointly. Robert Ward, 62, was represented by Attorney Mike Daffin, while Julie Ward, 57, was represented by Fourth Scoufos.

After the state presented its case, Judge Orendorff granted the demurrer for the defense, in essence saying that the state did not present enough evidence to establish probable cause that a crime had been committed and the charges were dismissed against the pair.

The Wards were charged in July following an incident on July 3 and 4, 2018, after a Muskogee County escapee, Rick Brock, was found sleeping in a mobile home on the Ward's property near Vian on July 4.

The state contended that Sequoyah County Deputy Thomas Stafford was acting on a tip when he went to look for Brock at a residence on U.S. 59 Highway on July 3, 2018. Authorities said at the time, Brock had managed to leave the area of Muskogee after cutting off his bracelet.

Thomas said Brock was standing next to a Honda Ridgeline that was later identified as belonging to Robert Ward. When he saw the deputy pull up, Brock ran into the nearby woods where authorities were unable to locate him.

Another Deputy on the scene contacted Thomas after Brock ran into the wooded area and told Thomas he had made contact with a vehicle occupied by Julie Ward. She told authorities at the time that she was delivering a wheel and tire to Brock for a vehicle he had been driving, which was confirmed by Robert Ward.

Brock's vehicle was at the Ward residence, according to a statement by Robert Ward. Julie Ward confirmed that Brock had spent the night at their home the night before, but was gone the next morning. At that time, Thomas said he advised both the Wards that Brock was a fugitive.

The following day, Thomas said he went to the Ward residence in Vian to determine if they had any further information about Brock's whereabouts. However, neither of the Wards were home.

Thomas said he went to the southwest corner of the Wards' property where he knew two mobile homes were located. The trailers were some distance from the home. The deputy said he saw Brock sleeping in one of the mobile homes and placed him under arrest.

Robert Ward is scheduled to appear before District Judge Jeff Payton for district court arraignment at 1:30 p.m. May16 on a separate charge of knowingly concealing stolen property in connection with the theft of a Kubota tractor out of Muskogee County.

Both Wards were charged in connection with the tractor theft in March 2018, but charges against Julie Ward were dismissed and her court records expunged.

Sequoyah County Times

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