McCauley convicted of first-degree manslaughter

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

An Osage County District Court jury on Friday night, Oct. 8, convicted Dakoda Aaron McCauley, 27, of Barnsdall, of first-degree manslaughter in the May 2018 death of a man identified as Frankie Cotto.

McCauley reportedly told the Osage County Sheriff’s Office he acted in self-defense, but Sheriff Eddie Virden said further investigation revealed that the claim didn’t hold up.

McCauley was accused of fatally stabbing Cotto, and Osage County prosecutors charged the defendant with second-degree murder or, in the alternative, first-degree manslaughter.

The case finally came to trial in Osage County District Court during the week of Oct. 4-8. The court record reflects that jurors deliberated Friday night, following closing arguments by attorneys that finished at 7:45 p.m.

The jury returned its verdict at 11:57 p.m. Oct. 8, according to the court record. Jurors reportedly chose to convict McCauley of the alternate charge of first-degree manslaughter.

The jury recommended a 22-year prison sentence for McCauley, and the court set a return date for sentencing of Nov. 16.

Brett Mize, first assistant to District Attorney Mike Fisher, handled the prosecution. He received assistance from Assistant District Attorney Tara Jack. Tulsa lawyer Richard O'Carroll represented the defendant.

Fisher said the McCauley case took a long time to handle, partly because of difficulties created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

O'Carroll mounted a vigorous defense for McCauley. Court reporter notes in the case reflect that O'Carroll sought on several occasions during the trial to have a mistrial declared.