TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Prosecutors charged a Tulsa man on Tuesday with first-degree murder and committing a hate crime in the killing of his Lebanese neighbor — a culmination of what authorities said was the man’s violent feud with the family that spanned several years and included a regular barrage of racial insults and personal confrontations.
This Aug. 12, 2016 booking photo released by the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office shows Stanley Majors, who has been jailed in connection with the death of his neighbor Khalid Jabara. (Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office via AP)
Stanley Majors, 61, was also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and threatening a violent act in the Aug. 12 fatal shooting of 37-year-old Khalid Jabara. The hate crime charge is a misdemeanor under Oklahoma law and accuses Majors of intimidating and harassing Jabara and his mother, Haifa Jabara, “because of race, color, religion, ancestry and national origin,” according to court papers filed Tuesday by prosecutors.
“The death of Khalid Jabara is tragic and our sympathies are with his family,” Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said in a statement Tuesday. Majors is scheduled for arraignment in district court on Wednesday. A message left for Majors’ attorney was not immediately returned Tuesday.
Family members of Khalid Jabara leave his home in Tulsa, Okla., Friday, Aug. 19, 2016, for his burial services. Khalid Jabara was allegedly shot and killed outside the home by one of his neighbors on Aug. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Majors spent years in conflict with the Jabara family, often hurling epithets such as “filthy Lebanese,” ”dirty Arabs” and “Moo-slems” at his next-door neighbors, authorities said. The Jabaras are actually Christian.
Lebanese immigrants have long been a visible part of the Oklahoma population, with many making their living as merchants, restaurateurs and grocers.
Shortly after the charges were filed Tuesday, Muslim Advocates and the Arab American Institute demanded in a coalition letter presented by advocacy, civil rights, community and faith-based groups that Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett direct law enforcement authorities to conduct a “fair and thorough investigation” into Jabara’s death.
Damage to the front of the Jabara home is visible in Tulsa, Okla., Friday, Aug. 19, 2016. Khalid Jabara was allegedly shot and killed by neighbor Stanley Majors on Aug. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
“In the last year, hate crimes targeting Arabs, Muslims, and those perceived to be either have skyrocketed,” Madihha Ahussain, Muslim Advocates staff attorney and lead for the Program to Counter Anti-Muslim Hate, said in the letter. “Unfortunately, there has also been a pattern of law enforcement officials minimizing the possibility that these crimes may be motivated by bigotry, sending a dangerous message that hate violence is not taken seriously.”
Officer Jeanne MacKenzie, a Tulsa Police spokeswoman, said Tuesday that her agency investigates every case “to the fullest.”
“We don’t exclude anything or anybody by race or sexual preference or anything like that,” she said. A call to the mayor’s office wasn’t immediately returned Tuesday.
The alleged abuse between the neighbors escalated to the point where Haifa Jabara obtained a protective order in 2013 that required Majors to stay 300 yards away and prohibited him from possessing any firearms until 2018. Majors also had a 2009 felony conviction from California for threatening a crime with intent to terrorize.
Flowers and a statue of St. Francis in a memorial display are pictured on the front lawn of the Jabara family in Tulsa, Okla., Friday, Aug. 19, 2016. Khalid Jabara was allegedly shot and killed outside his home by neighbor Stanley Majors on Aug. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
But last year, Majors was accused of plowing his car into Khalid’s mother, Haifa Jabara. She suffered a broken shoulder, among other injuries. After Majors struck her, he kept driving, prosecutors said. Officers who stopped him later reported that he was intoxicated. Prosecutors charged majors last September with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, leaving the scene of a collision violating the protective order and public intoxication.
Majors’ conflict with the Jabara family also put him at odds with his husband, Stephen Schmauss, who came to befriend Khalid and thought of him as an apprentice, teaching him how to use power tools and computer circuitry. Last week, Schmauss said his husband had killed his “best friend.”
Stephen Schmauss leans on his walker and his cane as he talks at the front door of his home in Tulsa, Okla., Friday, Aug. 19, 2016. Schmauss’ husband, Stanley Majors, is accused in the murder of neighbor Khalid Jabara. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Khalid Jabara’s slaying drew national attention, including a mention from presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who said her “heart breaks” for Jabara’s loved ones.
Schmauss tried to explain Majors’ comments, saying his husband is “textbook bipolar” and a diabetic who refuses to take any medication. Schmauss said anything Majors said to the Jabara family was “done under the bipolar situation.”
While awaiting trial for assault and battery, a judge freed Majors from jail on $60,000 bond, overruling strong objections by Tulsa County prosecutors, who called him “a substantial risk to the public” and pleaded with the court to set a higher bond of $300,000.
Schmauss, who claims that his cellphone was shattered when Majors fired at least five rounds from a handgun inside the couple’s house the day Khalid Jabara was killed, said in an e-mail that he can’t attend his husband’s arraignment on Wednesday because he is undergoing radiation therapy for cancer.