- Associated Press - Monday, May 19, 2014

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - Two brothers accused of fatally shooting four women at a run-down apartment complex in what authorities believe was a robbery gone bad will have separate jury trials next year, a judge ruled Monday.

Judge William Kellough set a Jan. 12 trial for James Poore and a Feb. 9 trial for Cedric Poore, who are each charged with four counts of first-degree murder.

Both men have pleaded not guilty to killing 23-year-old twins Rebeika Powell and Kayetie Melchor, 33-year-old Misty Nunley and 55-year-old Julie Jackson and are being represented by separate attorneys. The Poores didn’t speak during the brief hearing Monday. Several of the victims’ family members appeared in court, some of them sobbing.

The four women were discovered Jan. 7, 2013, in a back bedroom of Powell’s apartment. All had their hands tied behind their backs with blue or pink fabric and were shot in the head. Authorities believe the Poores shot the four because they feared the women might identify them.

At a preliminary hearing last year, James Poore’s girlfriend testified under an agreement with the state that she had tipped him off to jewelry, drugs and money inside Powell’s apartment.

Attorneys representing the Poores have argued all along that the state built a flimsy case on unreliable witnesses who admittedly used drugs and cut deals with prosecutors.

John Echols, an attorney for Cedric Poore, said Monday he’s been waiting more than a year to present his client’s case to jurors.

“We look forward to our day in court,” he said.

Prosecutors announced last week they wouldn’t seek the death penalty for either of the men, but Tulsa County First Assistant District Attorney Doug Drummond said after Monday’s hearing if the state secures convictions on all counts against the Poores, “they’ll never see the light of day.”

“This was a highly egregious crime,” Drummond said outside the courtroom, but affirmed that authorities believe non-death penalty trials were the right choice.

The shootings occurred in a troubled part of south Tulsa that has been plagued by blight and crime.

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