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Tahlequah shoplifting suspect charged with murder after deadly crash during police chase

Aram Catron is charged with first-degree murder after authorities say he led law enforcement on a chase through Tahlequah and crashed into another car, killing an innocent woman. (KTUL)

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (KTUL) -- A man accused of leading law enforcement on a chase in Tahlequah last month, crashing into another car and killing an innocent woman is facing a murder charge.

District Attorney Jack Thorp announced Tuesday he has filed charges against Aram Barak Catron, 35, with first-degree murder in the death of Malinda Jane Phillips, 36.

According to the affidavit, Catron was running from a Cheroke Nation deputy marshal Jan. 26 when he crashed into Phillips' car. Police Chief Nate King said the impact was so strong that the cab of Catron's truck detached and the motor of Phillips' car was thrown 20 feet.

Now, Catron is the subject of a manhunt. He was taken to the hospital after the crash but checked himself out before he could be arrested.

According to the affidavit, Catron confessed to drinking on the morning of the crash and said he ingested methamphetamine earlier that week. His record includes charges for driving under the influence, eluding police, public intoxication, marijuana and weapons possession.

Thorp has also found no fault with the deputy marshal who was following Catron, saying Preston Oosahwee acted safely and with restraint.

"Our investigation determined Deputy Oosahwee did not initiate pursuit of Catron until after he witnessed the suspect driving recklessly and forcing another vehicle off the road, endangering other drivers," said Thorp. "It appears Deputy Oosahwee did everything humanly possible to stop Catron's dangerous and reckless driving, which ultimately led to the tragic death of a beloved member of our community."

Because of his previous criminal history, police believe Catron is dangerous. Call (918) 446-8801 if you know where he is.

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