District Attorney Mike Fisher last Friday dropped a murder prosecution filed just over a year ago in a cold case that goes back to 1996. He told the Journal-Capital, however, that he doesn’t consider the dismissal the last word on the matter.
Fisher dropped, without prejudice (meaning a charge could be brought again at some point), a murder case brought against Cherri Miller-Terry, now 49, in connection with the 1996 death of Joannie Goodwin, 18. The prosecution that was filed last year was based on a reinvestigation that involved the television show “Cold Justice.” Osage County authorities brought Miller-Terry from Texas to face prosecution in Oklahoma.
Fisher said in March that he had asked the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) to have another look at the case.
The office of former district attorney Rex Duncan brought the murder case against Miller-Terry. Fisher, who became district attorney in January, said in March he had concerns about the strength of the case.
“I have some concerns about the strength of the case at this point,” Fisher said in March, adding he thought formal charges might have been pursued prematurely.
Fisher said Monday that the OSBI has a large load of cold cases to look at and six staff members to handle the caseload, only two of whom are agents. He clarified that the OSBI has yet to make a recommendation regarding its investigation of the death of Joannie Goodwin. That investigation is probably in its early stages, Fisher said.
Fisher explained that he didn’t want to allow the murder prosecution filed last year against Terry to linger until speedy trial issues legally imperiled it. He said the case could have been dismissed with prejudice (meaning it could not be refiled) if a judge had determined the defendant’s right to a speedy trial had been violated.
The district attorney said Monday that he does care about solving the Goodwin killing and had reached out to the victim’s son to let him know the OSBI investigation might take time and a dismissal might be necessary in the short run.
Fisher said in March that he had also asked the OSBI to take a look at a murder case filed in September 2018 against Dustin William Koelliker, now 47, in connection with the 2011 disappearance and believed death of a woman named Donna Wilson. The case against Koelliker was also a result of collaboration between the Osage County Sheriff’s Office and the television show “Cold Justice.”
Osage County District Court records showed, as of Monday morning, that Koelliker had another court appearance scheduled for Aug. 23.
Osage County sheriff Eddie Virden, whose deputies worked on the cold cases, said he views the OSBI investigation of Goodwin’s death as an opportunity to make that case stronger and hopefully achieve justice for the family. Virden is personally familiar with the Goodwin killing. He spent time working on it in the 2006-08 time period and had hoped to resolve it then.