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Finding a resolution to decades-old homicide cases

HOUSTON

A contingent of prosecutors and investigators from Texas traveled to Oklahoma Monday as part of continuing legal negotiations regarding a man suspected of murdering several women and young girls in the late 1990s.

William Reece is the main suspect in slayings of Jessica Cain, Laura Smither, Kelli Ann Cox and Tiffany Johnston.

All four were killed in 1997 and all of their cases remained unsolved until recently.

"Really what we're trying to do is set up a game plan, so to speak, on how to expeditiously handle these cases," said Anthony Osso, Reece's defense attorney.

Osso said Reece is "willing to accept responsibility" for the deaths. In February and March, Reece led detectives to the bodies of Cain and Cox. Cain disappeared from Galveston County in 1997. Cox disappeared the same year from Denton.

Smither was also slain in 1997. Her body was found a few weeks after she disappeared. Before Smither's death, Johnston disappeared from a town near Oklahoma City and her body was later found near the side of an interstate.

Osso said he is trying to negotiate a deal that will resolve all of the Texas cases quickly before Reece is sent to Oklahoma to answer for Johnston's murder.

"That will require that everybody agree to take the death penalty off the table," Osso said.

Osso said Texas officials have agreed to this, while Oklahoma officials have not. This is why Osso, Galveston county prosecutors and Texas Rangers traveled to Oklahoma Monday to discuss the cases.

"What I'm trying to do is get everybody on board for prosecuting these cases and resolving them quickly without the necessity of trial,"Osso said.

Osso said in exchange for giving prosecutors and police information on all these crimes, Reece wants to serve his time in Oklahoma, be in general prison population with some type of job and he wants to be buried in a veterans’ cemetery. Osso said he was surprised by this request because he didn't know his client was a veteran.

"He says this. I haven't even checked that out. We don't even know if that's real," Osso said.

Osso said even without the death penalty, Reece will be given such lengthy sentences he will die in prison. Osso said he expects Oklahoma officials will make their decision on the death penalty in the next couple of weeks.