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Tulsa man pleads guilty to lesser charge in crossbow killing of longtime friend
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Tulsa man pleads guilty to lesser charge in crossbow killing of longtime friend

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A Tulsa man recently pleaded guilty to an amended charge in the 2020 crossbow killing of his longtime friend.

Originally charged with first-degree murder, Jered Ryan Lee was convicted of manslaughter on Monday and avoided trial in Tulsa County District Court in the death of his friend of 20 years, John Preston Woodward.

The two last met April 6, 2020, when Lee brought a crossbow to Woodward’s house in east Tulsa.

A semi-conscious Woodward recounted the shooting to a family member while the crossbow’s bolt was still lodged in his head, according to court documents.

Woodward said he was in the front passenger seat of Lee’s car when Lee instructed him to look to the side and accused him of raping Lee’s mother before shooting him with the crossbow. He said Lee also tried to prevent him from getting out of the vehicle, court documents state.

Woodward, 36, died of his injuries three days later.

Lee, 32 at the time, was brought to authorities by a family member hours after the shooting. He initially denied having accused Woodward of assaulting his mother and claimed that the shooting was accidental — he said he closed a car door on the crossbow and it misfired.

Investigators found that Lee had a history of substance abuse and mental illness. His family told detectives he often had delusions of unspecified persons seeking to harm or torture his family members.

Family members reported that Lee’s breakdowns in behavior largely corresponded to his inconsistency in taking his medication and were especially aggravated when he opted to use illegal drugs, such as methamphetamine, instead, according to court records.

Woodward’s killing came at a time when Lee’s behavior was worsening as a result of not taking his proper medication, documents indicate. Lee spent three days at a mental health facility in March 2020, but in the days leading up to the shooting, family members reported that he had been acting increasingly paranoid — staying up all night and continuously checking door and window locks.

Lee, 33, was sentenced to 25 years in Department of Corrections custody with credit for time served and earned, according to court documents. He must serve at least 85% of his sentence and register as a violent offender.

Lee has been held at the Tulsa County jail since his arrest and remained there Tuesday.

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Staff Writer

I write because I care about people, policing and peace, and I believe the most informed people make the best decisions. I joined the Tulsa World in 2019 and currently cover breaking news. Phone: 918-581-8455

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