Local teenager charged in tractor theft case
By Ken Childers
A local teenager was arrested last week and faces multiple felony charges, two of them drug-related, for his alleged role in the theft of a tractor.
Matthew Joseph Rice, Jr., 18, has been charged with grand larceny, malicious injury to property, possession of a controlled dangerous substance and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia. A juvenile male was also apprehended in connection with the case, but details were not made available due to his age.
According to a probable cause affidavit, Okfuskee County Deputy Logan Manshack was dispatched to the Haydenville Fire Department on the morning of May 15 in reference to a tractor theft in progress. Dale Friend, the reporting party, told authorities that there were two males involved in the theft. Friend said one of the males was walking down Highway 56 and the other was at the fire department and had tried to run away.
Manshack made contact with Rice at Highway 56 and 1040 Road and detained him for questioning. After questioning, Rice was transported by Undersheriff R.L. Wilbourn to the sheriff’s department.
Deputy Terry Garner accompanied Manshack to an area just north of the Haydenville Fire Department where they made contact with Friend and a juvenile male. The juvenile, identified in the affidavit as “G.W,” was detained for questioning then taken by Garner to the sheriff’s office.
Manshack took statements from Dale and Sheri Friend, who said G.W. admitted to them that he had taken a tractor from a field and had driven it through a gate. The couple said G.W. tried to run away from them and when Dale attempted to catch up to him, G.W. turned and struck Dale with his backpack. Dale then restrained G.W. in a manner where he could not harm himself or others, according to the affidavit.
The owner of the tractor, Steven Curry, arrived on scene and said the tractor had been taken from 1010 Road, about one-half mile east of Highway 56. Curry said the tractor had been driven through his gate, causing it damage.
The tractor, a Kubota M9000 valued at approximately $40,000, was located on Highway 56 about three and a half miles north of 1010. Upon inspection, the front end of the hay spike was sticking straight up in the air and the tractor’s box blade had dragged the highway, causing it to warp. Curry said the blade was valued at around $2,000.
Rice was eventually read his rights and agreed to talk with law enforcement. According to the affidavit, Rice admitted that he and G.W. had taken the tractor and when they got to the highway, he got off the tractor and started walking towards Okemah.
According to the affidavit, Rice was in possession of a marijuana bong and pipe with burnt residue on them. Rice told Wilbourn that the residue was from marijuana. G.W. was in possession of a glass pipe with burnt residue, a wooden box with green leafy residue and a white and green container with green leafy residue.
Rice was arraigned in Okfuskee County District court on May 21, where he entered a plea of not guilty. According to court records, a preliminary hearing has been scheduled for May 28 in Judge Maxey Reilly’s courtroom.