7News memorable stories of the year - KSWO, Lawton, OK- Wichita Falls, TX: News, Weather, Sports. ABC, 24/7, Telemundo -

7News memorable stories of the year

Lawton_As the year ends, 7News looks back at the stories that captured our attention in 2008.  From a landmark election and reprieve for a notorious killer, to a little girl's holiday hope.

Voters turned out in droves in November to make their voices heard in this historic Presidential Election.  Many stood for hours during the early voting period, and on Election Day in what clearly was the top political story of the year.

The top weather story of the year happened in June when a windstorm hit Altus, damaging more than 50 homes and several businesses on the city's southeast side.  A motel there lost most of its second story, and power was knocked out for weeks.

Cameron University celebrated its centennial with special on-campus events and a record-smashing fundraising campaign.  The school's goal was $8.5 million, but when it ended in July, Cameron had raised $12 million.  Construction already is underway on projects to radically change the look of the campus.

Ricky Ray Malone - the man sentenced to death row three years ago for killing Highway Patrol Officer Nik Green - had his death sentence put on hold...indefinitely.  A court had set the punishment aside at the end of 2007, and ordered a sentencing retrial, and in September, the court ruled he was incompetent to stand trial.  That ruling took Malone off death row, and put him in Oklahoma's mental treatment facility where he will remain until his competency trial is established - if ever.

Two officer-involved shootings in the area resulted in the deaths of two men.  In September, Lawton Police Officer Luis Pagan shot and killed Marcell Johnson during a traffic stop.  The District Attorney ruled that the shooting was justified, and that Johnson's actions had led Officer Pagan to believe he was in danger.  An independent investigation launched by Johnson's family is ongoing.

In June, a shootout in the town of Temple involving Cotton County Sheriff's Deputies and Temple Police ended in the death of Kelly Valdez.  The incident began in Walters - where Valdez stole a gun - and ended in a neighborhood in Temple where Valdez opened fire on officers with a deer rifle before he was killed.

In February, a violent threat locked down every school in Lawton after an Anadarko man threatened to shoot students and chemically bomb two high schools.  By mid-afternoon, Joshua Hunter had been arrested for making a terrorist hoax.  Lawton schools returned to normal operations by the following day.

Bobbi Parker finally was charged with helping convicted killer Randolph Dial escape from the prison in Granite 14 years ago.  The District Attorney says that the evidence showed that Parker was not kidnapped.

In December, a bank manager was charged with robbing his own bank.  Todd Rudisill of Lawton, along with two friends, stand accused of robbing the City National Bank's East Lawton Branch.  Investigators say Rudisill had embezzled money and the robbery was designed to cover it up.  The three men are awaiting trial. 

Delta Airlines returned to Lawton in March offering two round-trip flights daily to Atlanta.  However, in September, Delta cut back to only one daily flight. 

A judge's ruling in December could impact Lawton's economy.  Judge Keith Aycock ordered the demolition of the abandoned Midtown Square Shopping Center, ending a lengthy battle between the city and the property owner who was ordered either to renovate or demolish the building.  The judge issued the ruling after the owner, Bob Mansell, failed to meet several conditions and deadlines set by the court.

In August, BAE Systems formally opened the first facility in Elgin's Industrial Park - a 10,000 square foot building that is the first step toward establishing a cannon-building plant.  The company is building the next generation howitzer for the Army.

Fort Sill faced off with the Comanche Tribe over construction of a training service center.  The site was near Medicine Bluff, a sacred site for the Comanches.  They went to court to block Fort Sill's plans, and received a temporary injunction.  In November, Fort Sill announced that it would not build there, and asked that the tribe's lawsuit be dismissed.  However, the tribe wants the judge to make the injunction permanent.  The decision still is pending.

Crews worked for 14 hours - well into the night - to free a man who was trapped when a trench collapsed at a construction site in Lawton.  Alex Cabrera remains in the hospital, and is recovering from his injuries.  Local fire officials said it was remarkable that he survived the ordeal.

The feel good story of the year:  Haley Moore of Lawton told her friends she didn't want presents for her birthday in December.  Instead, she asked them to bring toys for kids at the children's shelter.  Haley's one day drive - Haley's Holiday Hope - brought a truckload of toys, clothes, and other items for the kids, and almost $1,500.
Powered by Frankly