February 12, 2018
On February 12, 2018, District 27 District Attorney Jack Thorp filed a first-degree murder charge against Aram Barak Catron 35, of Colcord, in connection with the death of Malinda Jane Phillips, 36, on January 26, 2018.
According to the attached probable cause affidavit, Catron struck and killed Phillips with his vehicle in Cherokee County shortly after 1 p.m on January 26th. Investigators allege he was eluding a Cherokee Nation deputy marshal at the time of the collision, in violation of21 O.S. 540A (B). Because Phillips’ death resulted from this alleged violation, Catron is charged under 21 O.S. 701.7(B) with First Degree Felony Murder.
Possible sentences for a conviction of First Degree Murder are life, life without pm·ole, or death.
“Malinda Phillips’ family and the community of Park Hill lost their loved one in the blink of an eye,” said Thorp. “This type of senseless loss is the reason this office exists, and our team studied the facts and the law diligently to determine the charge we believe represents justice in this tragedy.”
Thorp credited what he considered excellent police work that led to the murder charge. “The Tahlequah Police Depattment, Cherokee County SheriffNonnan Fisher, the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol collaborated to compile all of the infonnation necessary to file this charge,” said Thorp.
Thorp also concluded his investigation into the circumstances surrounding the pursuit by the Cherokee Nation deputy marshal, finding Preston Oosahwee acted safely and with restraint.
“Our investigation determined Deputy Oosahwee did not initiate pursuit of Catron,” said Thorp, “until after he witnessed the suspect driving recklessly and forcing another vehicle off the road, endangering other drivers.”
Thorp said investigators found that Catron saw the deputy’s vehicle and fled, and that’s when Oosahwee saw him force the other vehicle off the road.
“It appears Deputy Oosahwee did everything humanly possible to stop Catron’s dangerous and reckless driving, which ultimately led to the tragic death of a beloved member of our community,” Thorp said.
Catron is presumed innocent until and if the State of Oklahoma proves its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
At this time Aram Barak Catron is currently a fugitive from justice. If you see or recognize him please contact law enforcement. His past actions indicate that he may be dangerous.