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Stephens County Courthouse beefs up security

Stephens County_At the Stephens County Courthouse in Duncan, members of the Stephens County Sheriff's Department, Duncan Police Department, and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol were present on Monday morning for the preliminary hearing of Elijah Davis who stands accused of murdering Cyrus Holland in October, 2008. 

Security on Monday was the tightest in the history of Stephens County court cases, according to officials.  Stephens County Sheriff Wayne McKinney now will provide security for any court case after taking office this year.  There were about six law enforcement officials patrolling the building - many guarding the entrance to the courtroom. 

Anyone allowed into the courtroom had to enter through a metal detector.  Although it may seem extreme, McKinney says precautions are necessary, particularly for a unique and more high profile case such as this.  "Right now only the east entrance is open, so people who are coming in for their day to day business will have to come in the east side of the courthouse - the only entrance in and out of the courthouse today," he said.

Stephens County District Attorney Bret Burns says the amount of security on Monday was unusual.  "We've had more security in the courthouse today than we have ever had before in Stephens County," he said.  The amount of security is due to the unusual nature of the case for the county.  "We believe we have witnesses that have been threatened by different gang members, so we appreciate the security being here to make sure everyone is safe," said Burns.

The safety of those on trial or testifying aren't the only individuals whose safety may be in jeopardy.  A woman at the courthouse who preferred not to be identified for fear of gang retaliation says she felt comfortable only because of the additional security.  "It was well-needed, very well-needed," she said.  "I'm glad the sheriff's department is on their job.  When we came in we saw police everywhere, and we're glad about that."

It was apparent that additional security was necessary as shortly before a witness took the stand to testify against defendant Elijah Davis the witness pled the Fifth Amendment.  Burns says he believed that the witness was being threatened by gang members who were also in the courtroom. 

In the end, the judge did find enough evidence to bind Davis over for trial. He is scheduled to be tried in April.

Count on 7News to keep you updated.

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