David Lee Kemp Sentenced
COMANCHE CO., Okla_ Southwest Oklahoma's most famous fugitive, David Lee Kemp, who spent years on the run avoiding trial for two murders, avoided trial again Wednesday.
He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. He was awaiting his trial in March of 1999 for the deaths of his ex-wife Cristina Cremer and her boyfriend Robert Miller when he escaped from the Comanche County Jail. He was on the run until April of this year when he turned himself in.
Kemp's trial was scheduled to start one week from Monday, but Wednesday's surprising plea brought this infamous ordeal to a quiet conclusion.
Robert Miller's brother James describes Wednesday's sentencing as surreal. He said he relied on the power of prayer to give him the strength to see justice finally served. He said sometimes he thought the day may never come. While he is happy it is all over, the sadness remains that his brother is never coming home.
"That is something that I will never ever be able to deal with," James said.
James Miller sat in a practically empty courtroom Wednesday with a mixed bag of emotions as David Lee Kemp pleaded guilty to killing his brother Robert. He said that the district attorney called him Tuesday and told him to come to the courtroom expecting good news.
"I didn't sleep last night, so basically all I was doing was going off of adrenaline, James said. There was a little bit of anger mixed in with that, too. It has been a long time."
He was shocked at Wednesday's quick close in the case. As he sat in the courtroom, he believed Kemp was acting quickly to protect the others involved in helping him avoid capture all these years.
"For it to happen as quickly as it did, it amazed me," James said. "The other thing is: I think that he is protecting somebody, a lot of somebodies. There is no way on God's earth that he did this or was able to take care of himself by himself. So, that is something that is always going to be in the back of my mind."
James said it was hard to watch and keep his composure as Judge Allen McCall sentenced Kemp to two life sentences without parole.
"He showed no emotion as he pled guilty on all the charges," James said. "It was just like going through the emotions."
His family originally wanted the death penalty, but when they thought about the possibilities of appeals and having to experience the trial, life without parole became the best option.
"We thought that it would be better for him to be in jail for the rest of his life," James said. "Let him die in jail."
While Wednesday marked the official close to the case, James said he doesn't know if he will ever find total closure.
"Maybe later on tonight it will soak in," James said. "Right now, I am happy. My family is happy. Hopefully, this is a step closer to some closure. Again, my brother is gone, and that's what breaks our hearts the most."
Judge McCall attributes the case's quick end to the recent completion of the transcript from Kemp's 1998 preliminary hearing. It's that information that led Wednesday's proceeding to be a plea and sentencing hearing rather than just a pre-trial hearing.
It was also determined in Wednesday's court proceedings that the investigation surrounding who helped Kemp hide from authorities for 14 years would end, and no further leads would be pursued. Kemp's life sentences were ordered to be served consecutively, and he forfeited his rights to appeal.