The Duncan Banner

December 12, 2012

Claxton faces manslaughter charge

Derrick Miller
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — First Degree Manslaughter charges were filed against a Wilson man Tuesday, prior to the man’s first appearance in court.

John Claxton, 37, faces the felony charge following a collision accident Saturday, which resulted in the death of a Ratliff City man, Robert Bench, 37. Claxton, who was arrested by the Velma Police Department at the scene, was driving a semi-truck involved in the vehicle collision in Velma on Oklahoma Highway 7.

“The driver, the defendant, was hauling 80,000 gallons of a liquid he said was salt water,” District Attorney Jason Hicks said. “When we tested it, it was crude oil.”

Hicks said the trailer being hauled by Claxton wasn’t marked with hazmat stickers to identify the trailer’s content. According to information filed by Hicks, Claxton was committing a misdemeanor by driving while his driving rights were suspended.

Hicks said Claxton was driving a 1995 Peterbilt semi-truck on Oklahoma Highway 7, near Perdue St., when Bench allegedly pulled his vehicle out in front of the semi-truck, causing the collision.

“It was the other driver’s fault for the accident,” Hicks said.

The manslaughter charge extended from the fact that Claxton was under suspension and should not have been driving, Hicks said.

According to the information filed by Hicks, “On or about the 8th of December 2012, without premeditated design to effect death, did cause and effect the death of one Robert Bench while the said defendant was unlawfully engaged in a misdemeanor.”

Hicks said the large volume of crude oil being allegedly being hauled by Claxton was another reason why the District Attorney’s Office is seeking the manslaughter charge.

If convicted, Claxton would face imprisonment of not less than four years.

Claxton’s bond was set at $25,000. His preliminary hearing conference has been set for 9 a.m. Feb. 27, 2013.