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Cherokee Co. killer charged with murdering prisoner

A Park Hill man, who is serving a life sentence for the murder of a Cherokee County man, has been charged with killing a fellow prisoner.

According to online court reports, Paul Newberry was charged with first-degree murder with deliberate intent on Dec. 29, 2023. Newberry reportedly used a homemade knife to stab the fellow prisoner several times, killing him.

Newberry was serving a life sentence for the 2015 murder of Charley Kirk, 88, who resided in the Keys area. Deputies with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to South 490 Road in July 2015 after Kirk’s ranch hand discovered him dead.

According to reports, Kirk was killed when he awoke and interrupted a burglary.

Newberry and Cheyenne Watts were arrested after they were found in possession of illegal narcotics and firearms.

They confessed to the murder but blamed the shooting on each other. They claimed they went to burglarize Kirk, and he was killed when he awoke and confronted them.

Both men were formally charged with first-degree murder with deliberate intent. They were also charged with robbery with a weapon, first-degree burglary, attempted first-degree arson, larceny of an automobile and third-degree arson.

Newberry escaped the Muskogee County jail and was eventually captured by U.S. marshals outside of Austin, Texas.

Newberry pleaded guilty in exchange for life in prison with the possibility of parole. Watts pleaded guilty to murder and was given 45 years in prison for second-degree murder with credit for time served.


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