Sen. Barrington honored for ‘Cold Cases’ law

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

Published: 17-Sep-2010

State Sen. Don Barrington, a Lawton Republican, has been chosen to receive the first annual “Shawn Beaty Award” for legislation aimed at helping solve cold cases.  The award, given by the Cold Case Investigative Research Institute (CCIRI), will be presented during a ceremony at Bauder College in Atlanta, Georgia on October 7, and is named for Oklahoma homicide victim Shawn Beaty.

Barrington was principal Senate author of House Bill 3294 which enables Oklahoma law enforcement to take advantage of outside resources available for investigating unsolved crimes.

“We’ve worked to ensure law enforcement in Oklahoma can fully utilize important forensic tools such as DNA and other types of crime scene evidence,” Barrington said.  “This new law will enable us to take advantage of additional programs and organizations to help us solve cold cases.”

CCIRI is dedicated to solving cold cases through a cooperative effort involving Auburn Montgomery, Bauder College and Falkner University, along with current former law enforcement agents, including agents with the FBI.  Students work with criminal justice experts as they investigate unsolved crimes.  Some of the high profile cases the Institute has worked on include the homicides of Washington D.C. intern Chandra Levy and the disappearance of college student Natalee Holloway in Aruba.

Oklahoman Jerry Beaty contacted CCIRI hoping they could help solve his wife’s murder.  More than five years ago, Shawn Beaty was found dead from smoke inhalation after their Bryan County home was intentionally set on fire.  The organization agreed to investigate the cold case.

“Unfortunately, Mr. Beaty was told that current state law barred the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation from releasing files to the Cold Case Investigative Research Institute,” Barrington said.  “HB 3294 cleared the way for the OSBI to release information to other agencies and groups outside law enforcement such as CCIRI in an effort to solve cold cases.”

Barrington, Chairman of the Senate Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee, will share the honor with Gov. Henry, Representative Sue Tibbs and Jerry Beaty.

In response to a request for comment, Governor Brad Henry told CapitolBeatOK, “The award is a great honor for Oklahoma, and I am pleased that I was able to play a small role in the process.  I applaud Sen. Barrington, Rep. Tibbs, Jerry Beaty and the others who worked so hard on the legislation.”

Note: Editor Patrick B. McGuigan contributed to this report.