Kaitlyn Finnegan was an 18-year-old senior at Bishop Kelley High School in Tulsa, OK. She was shot and died of her wounds on April 4, 2009.
Kaitlyn died from a gunshot wound in a home at a home in the 5800 block of South 94th East Place. Tulsa police told a local radio station that Kaitlyn was shot while at the home of a friend.
No one called police after the shooting; instead a friend drove her to the hospital.
Theo Fleming (17) was arrested on a complaint of first-degree murder and booked as an adult in the Tulsa Country Jail. Kaitlyn’s parents, Jim and Jeanne Finnegan, say the two were beginning to date:
He knew what he was doing. He had a gun. He knew what a gun would do. To point it at her and pull the trigger, just to be screwing around. He still should go to jail for murder,” Jeanne said.
The charge against Theo Fleming includes an allegation that “Fleming had a deliberate intent to kill.”
Kaitlyn was a student at Bishop Kelley High School, a private Catholic school. Theo Fleming is a senior at Jenks High School, arguably the area’s most prestigeous public high school. He attended school under the name Theo Colbert. The shooting occurred at the home of Fleming’s friend:
Fleming initially told police that he and two other people transported Finnegan to the hospital after she was injured in a drive-by shooting while walking a dog. When police could find no evidence of a shooting at the location he showed them, he told officers that he accidentally shot her at 5837 S. 94th E. Place, the arrest report shows.
Witnesses told police that he had a black semi-automatic pistol in the front of his shorts and that he was in the living room of the home with Finnegan when the shot was fired.
“The suspect had the gun with him. At this time, we don’t know where he got it,” Ashley said.
Theo Fleming’s grandfather talked to Tulsa World reporters:
The teen’s father, Theophilus Fleming III, was shot and killed by police following a bank robbery in downtown Tulsa on April 17, 2001. Theophilus Fleming III shot a customer during the robbery and then was shot by police later that day when he pointed a gun at detectives as they tried to take him into custody.
A friend, Nicole Ellison, remembers Kaitlyn:
Kaitlyn was an amazing person. Kaitlyn made you believe in God. I had no belief in religion before I met Kaitlyn. She had the cutest personality. There weren’t many flaws about that girl.
“She could make anyone happy. It’s really sad that we lost her.”
Now that the case has progressed and Theo Fleming (Colbert) is behind bars, Fleming’s lawyer, Twan Jones, has made claims of racism. Kaitlyn was White and Theo is Black. Jones set up a “news conference” in a Tulsa church, on the agenda is a discussion about “inequalities in the criminal justice system.”
Jones has attempted to have the case tried in Juvenile Court but that motion has been denied. “By law, a person who is 15, 16 or 17 years old and charged with first-degree murder shall be held accountable” as an adult and shall not be subject to the provisions of the Youthful Offender Act or the juvenile code,” according to the Tulsa World.
Twan Jones believes Fleming should be tried in Juvenile Court because:
…the young man has a future. We are concerned that he is not getting a fair shake.”
The Tulsa World says Jones “wonders if the case would be prosecuted the same way if the victim were black. ” The district Attorney, Tim Harris, denied inequities and said the case would go forward based on facts, evidence, and law.”
An event is scheduled for this coming Saturday to gather in support of Fleming. Twan Jones is the first vice-president of the local NAACP chapter – but he says the chapter is not involved in Saturday’s protest.
For a citizen sitting out here watching the case evolve, it is extremely distressing to see that everything is about race. Jones is quoted as saying while government attorneys may claim not to look at the race of a defendant, “the underlying issue is race.” How can everything be culled down to race? Everything is not about race. Some things may be about race, some of the time, whether a Black, White, Hispanic or other ethnicity’s, are involved. But everything is not always about race, and Mr. Twan Jones should temper his rhetoric and get his client’s case dismissed or take it to court and see it through, based on the facts of the case.