A 68-year-old Lawton man is in jail accused of strangling his stepson to death in October 2022.
Howard Gregory Albright made his initial appearance Wednesday in Comanche County District Court where he received a felony count of first-degree manslaughter, records indicate. The crime is punishable by no less than four years in prison.
Albright is accused of manually strangling Michael Dewayne Espinoza, 43, during what began as a domestic assault and battery that investigators said escalated to unlawful death.
Police were called shortly after 3 p.m. Oct. 18, 2022, to 1811 NW Taylor and spoke with Albright. He said he and his stepson had been in a verbal fight that that became physical. He said at some point, Espinoza stopped breathing and lost consciousness, the probable cause affidavit states.
Albright told investigators Espinoza had awakened around 7:30 a.m. during a nightmare and was screaming he was going to “kill somebody,” Detective Robert Meurant stated. He said the argument began in the kitchen soon after Espinoza began handling a butcher knife and came toward him, the affidavit states. Saying he was afraid the younger man was going to hurt him, Albright said he pushed him to the ground, got the knife away from him and that he hit Espinoza several times.
Meurant asked Albright if Espinoza threatened him with the knife or threatened self-harm. “No sir, he did not,” was his reply, according to the affidavit. After getting up from the floor, he said, they began fighting and wrestling, eventually choking the younger man out and leaving him on the floor while he got a cup of coffee and went in the other room. He said he believed Espinoza was “playing possum,” Meurant stated.
Albright admitted to drinking whiskey in his bedroom and later walking to Cache Road Liquor to pick up another bottle before returning home and to his bedroom, according to the affidavit.
Espinoza’s mother told Meurant she returned home from work shortly before 6 p.m., found her son lying on the kitchen floor and dialed 911; his eyes were open and he was gurgling. Paramedics conducted CPR as well as compressions, but he’d been without a pulse for about 20 to 30 minutes before arriving to the emergency room where he was pronounced dead, the affidavit states.
The Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s autopsy report showed Espinoza had multiple bruises and abrasions from the fight. Dr. Manuel Maldonado-Vital reported manual strangulation the reason for his homicide determination.
Albright is being held on a $500,000 cash warrant bond.