Washington County

Posted: Feb 22, 2021 4:44 PMUpdated: Feb 22, 2021 4:44 PM

Murder Trial Day Two: Marano Testifies On Own Behalf

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Max Gross

Defendant Omar Marano Jr. took the stand to testify on his own behalf on Tuesday afternoon at the Washington County Courthouse. Marano is accused of killing Charlie Bethel in Bartlesville in March 2020.

Marano was the only witness called to the stand by defense attorney Mark Kane. The defendant stated that he had been released from jail and pursued a rehabilitation program upon his release. Marano stated he wanted, “one last hoorah” before checking in.

He said he then called his “friend from the underworld,” Cynthia Fish, a co-defendant. Marano asked Fish if she might have any friends interested in engaging in sexual activity with him. The two met with another co-defendant, Amber Hall, at the residence of Stephen Jones on Armstrong Avenue.

The four engaged in smoking methamphetamine. The defendant then claimed that Hall had received messages from Bethel insinuating that he wanted sex in exchange for drugs. This upset the group and Marano said in the testimony that, “we should teach him (Bethel) a lesson.”

Marano then learned of something on Bethel’s criminal record. This point on Bethel’s record was not disclosed to the jury. Marano said the plan was for him and Hall to go to Marano’s residence on Maple Avenue and do drugs with Bethel.

It was later revealed through the testimony of Bartlesville Police Sergeant Daniel Elkins that Marano disclosed a plan to rob Bethel as well. Later in the hearing, Assistant district attorney Will Drake played a video recording of an interview between Elkins and Marano on March 19, 2020—after the alleged incident occurred.

In the video Marano can be heard explaining that he told the fourth co-defendant, Austin Prather, about a plan to rob Bethel.

Marano continued in his testimony by stating that he and Hall went to the Maple residence where they had told Bethel to meet. Marano entered the residence while Hall stayed in the vehicle he claimed.

Marano said that Bethel was in the upstairs bedroom. Marano said he entered with a baseball that he borrowed from his roommate Chris Standley. Standley testified on Tuesday morning that Marano had borrowed his truck. He kept the bat in his truck to help with oilfield work.

According to Marano’s testimony he set the bat against the wall before entering the bedroom. This point was not brought up in any other testimony or the video interview with Sgt. Elkins.

He claims Bethel asked about Hall—who he had been told he would be meeting with. Marano then said Bethel lunged at him so he picked up the bat as an act of self-defense.

“I thought he was going to hurt me,” Marano said. The defendant believed he had hit Bethel in the shoulders with the bat. Marano discovered in the March 19 interview with Elkins that he had hit Bethel in the head. Marano said “I wasn’t trying to hurt him like that.”

He claims that he got rid of the bat. BPD officer Cody Lemmons testified that he and K9 Duko found the bat on the railroad tracks behind the Armstrong residence. The bat was presented as evidence as well.

The proceedings will continue Wednesday at noon. Jury instructions, closing arguments and deliberations are on the docket.


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