april 23, source : http://www.bnd.com
OKLAHOMA CITY — A federal appeals court on Monday upheld an Oklahoma conviction and death sentence for a man who killed people in three different states, rejecting an argument that he suffers from bipolar disorder and lacked the mental capacity to waive his right to a jury trial.
Steven Ray Thacker, 41, asked the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver to grant him a new trial in the December 1999 stabbing death of Laci Dawn Hill, 25, of Bixby. Thacker pleaded guilty in state court to first-degree murder, kidnapping and first-degree rape. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced Thacker to death for the murder conviction.
In its 62-page decision, the appeals court rejected Thacker’s arguments concerning competency and inadequate counsel. He claimed his defense attorney was ineffective in advising him to enter a blind guilty plea and not filing a motion to withdraw the guilty plea.
Thacker has also been convicted and sentenced to death in Tennessee for the Jan. 2, 2000, killing of a tow truck driver, Ray Patterson. He was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Forrest Boyd on Jan. 1., 2000, inside his home in Aldrich, Mo.
In the Bixby slaying, officials say Hill had advertised a pool table for sale at her Tulsa County home and Thacker answered the ad. Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agents said Thacker admitted to pulling a knife on Hill and demanding money. He also allegedly said he took a credit card from her, forced her into his car and drove her to a cabin in Chouteau, where he raped and strangled her.
Hill was stabbed twice in the chest, wounds that penetrated her left lung and caused her to bleed to death, according to the appellate court’s decision.
Thacker had called Patterson to tow his car after it broke down as he was driving from Missouri toward Dyersburg, Tenn. Patterson towed the car to a service station, and Thacker tried to pay him with a stolen credit card. When the card was rejected, Thacker stabbed Patterson because he knew Thacker was wanted in other states, authorities said.
Thacker is currently in the custody of the Tennessee Department of Corrections, according to Jerry Massie of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. Online prison records indicate Thacker is confined at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville.
Thacker’s defense attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender Randy Bauman, declined comment on the appellate court’s decision.