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Manslaughter Verdict for Volunteer Tulsa Deputy

TULSA, Okla. (CN) - An Oklahoma jury deliberated for three hours before convicting a white former volunteer sheriff's deputy of manslaughter Wednesday night in the shooting death of a restrained black man during an arrest.

The Tulsa County jury found insurance executive Robert Bates, 73, guilty of second-degree manslaughter. It recommended he serve four years in state prison, the maximum punishment they could recommend.

Bates' attorney, Clark Brewster with Brewster & De Angelis in Tulsa, looked perplexed when the verdict was read. Sheriff's deputies immediately cuffed Bates and led him out of the courtroom, the Tulsa World newspaper reported.

The jury was apparently not swayed by hours of defense expert witness testimony that Eric Harris, 44, died of a heart attack instead of a gunshot. Bates is shown in a body camera video shooting a restrained Harris during a gun-sale sting and arrest last year.

Bates has steadfastly said he mistook his gun for his Taser, screaming, "Taser!" before firing and immediately apologizing as Harris screamed that he had been shot.

During closing arguments, Assistant District Attorney John David Luton told jurors Harris deserved to be chased, taken down and arrested, but he "didn't deserve to be gunned down and killed."

Luton told jurors not to be swayed by Bates' medical expert testimony that the gunshot did not kill Harris and to use common sense. He cited testimony of the two physicians who actually touched Harris who agreed he died from blood loss.

"Do we need an expert to tell us he died from a gunshot wound?" Luton asked. "Ridiculous."

Brewster reminded jurors of Harris' criminal history, mentioning previous armed robbery convictions, a prison escape and battery of a law enforcement officer in describing the danger he posed to officers.

"Incidentally, I didn't write his resume," he said. "He wrote his resume."

Brewster repeated that the gunshot did not kill Harris, that he was shot moments before he died of a heart attack.

On rebuttal, Assistant District Attorney Kevin Gray said that Bates had told investigators that Harris' death was on his conscience.

"I am asking you to put it on his record," Gray said.

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