Doster pleads guilty, accepts life sentence in Texas

Published 12:11 am Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Covington County native Oscar Roy Doster pleaded guilty to murder in Texas yesterday in exchange for a life sentence.

Doster’s plea came in the second week of jury selection for his capital murder trial in Fairfield, Texas, the Dallas Morning News reported late yesterday afternoon.

Doster was charged with murder for the fatal shooting of Dennis Courtney in April 2005.

Six days before Courtney’s body was found, Doster and a companion, James Harnage, were among four inmates to escape from the Covington County Jail. Harnage also was charged in Courtney’s death. Earlier this month, he accepted a plea deal in exchange for his promise to testify against Doster. Harnage pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of aggravated robbery for which he received a sentence of 40 years in prison.

If Doster had stood for trial, there was a chance he could have been found guilty and sentenced to death in Texas. He already has received the death penalty in Alabama for his murder of Gantt resident Paul LeMaster.

Doster’s formal sentencing has been set for Friday. Five jurors already had been picked for his trial and testimony likely would have started in early September.

“This morning when we came to the courthouse, we didn’t have any idea our client would give us settlement authority at all,” Doster’s lawyer, John Wright, told The Dallas Morning News. “But at lunch time, he approached us and gave us authority to settle it.”

Under terms of the agreement, the sentence will run consecutively on top of any sentences in Alabama, where he has both a death and life sentence.

Wright said the Texas sentence “doesn’t even start until all of his business in Alabama is completed, and that could the 12th of never.”

“It goes a long way to ensuring most likely he will die in prison, a very high likelihood,” Freestone County District Attorney Chris Martin said. “I’m hope the state of Texas never has to see Oscar Doster again, and I hope the sentence he’s serving over there gets carried out to the fullest degree.

“If not, I take pleasure that I believe he will die in prison one way or the other.”