Charge Upgraded to First Degree Murder for Spiro Man

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During a preliminary hearing in LeFlore County Thursday (Nov. 14), prosecutors upgraded the charges against a Spiro man they say stabbed his common law wife in January causing her death.

Elec Cusick, 39, is charged with kidnapping and first degree murder, upgraded from assault and battery with a deadly weapon.

Crews responded to a house fire on Stewart Loop in Spiro, Okla. around 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 21. Cusick and his common law wife, Myrtle Cooper, 47, were found unconscious in the front yard.

Cooper had been stabbed multiple times and burns covered more than half her body, according to the LeFlore County Sheriff's Office. A neighbor said Cooper was naked.

Testimony given at the preliminary hearing provided details regarding Cusick and Cooper's activities in the hours before authorities responded to the fire.

A neighbor, who said she's known Cusick for many years because he went to school with her son, testified Cooper dropped by her home after the neighbor got home from work. The neighbor said shortly after Cooper arrived, Cusick walked into her home, grabbed Cooper's arm and "drug her out the door."

The neighbor said about an hour later, her nephew, who also lives in the area, called authorities to report the fire at Cusick and Cooper's home.

Cusick and Cooper were both taken to a Tulsa hospital.

Travis Saulsberry, an investigator with the district attorney's office, testified during the hearing that he interviewed Cusick at Hillcrest Hospital where he was being treated for smoke inhalation.

Saulsberry said Cusick first claimed he and Cooper were in bed and someone broke into their home, attacked them and set the home on fire.

Cusick then told the investigator Cooper had a drug problem, and she would often leave their home for weeks at a time while on drugs and be raped by men. He said he hit Cooper with a piece of wood and cut the back of her leg with a knife to prevent her from leaving the home, according to Saulsberry.

Saulsberry testified blood was found on the living room carpet, a couch, on the refrigerator and on the front porch of the home Cusick and Cooper shared.

Cooper died from her injuries in March, according to LeFlore County Undersheriff Kendall Morgan.

Cusick is being held at the LeFlore County Detention Center.

Click here to see more coverage of the fire.