Murder charge for Tulsa man in slaying of Lebanese neighbor

Man was free on bond while ­awaiting trial for assault and battery

By Justin Juozapavicius
Associated Press

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Prosecutors charged a Tulsa man on Tuesday with first-degree murder and committing a hate crime in the killing of his Lebanese neighbor — a culmination of what authorities said was the man’s violent feud with the family that spanned several years and included a regular barrage of racial insults and personal confrontations.

Stanley Majors, 61, was also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and threatening a violent act in the Aug. 12 fatal shooting of 37-year-old Khalid Jabara. The hate crime charge is a misdemeanor under Oklahoma law and accuses Majors of intimidating and harassing Jabara and his mother, Haifa Jabara, “because of race, color, religion, ancestry and national origin,” according to court papers filed Tuesday by prosecutors.

“The death of Khalid Jabara is tragic and our sympathies are with his family,” Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said in a statement Tuesday. Majors is scheduled for arraignment in district court on Wednesday. A message left for Majors’ attorney was not immediately returned Tuesday.

Majors spent years in conflict with the Jabara family, often hurling epithets such as “filthy Lebanese,” ‘’dirty Arabs” and “Moo-slems” at his next-door neighbors, authorities said. The Jabaras are actually Christian.

Lebanese immigrants have long been a visible part of the Oklahoma population, with many making their living as merchants, restaurateurs and grocers.

Shortly after the charges were filed Tuesday, Muslim Advocates and the Arab American Institute demanded in a coalition letter presented by advocacy, civil rights, community and faith-based groups that Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett direct law enforcement authorities to conduct a “fair and thorough investigation” into Jabara’s death.

“In the last year, hate crimes targeting Arabs, Muslims, and those perceived to be either have skyrocketed,” Madihha Ahussain, Muslim Advocates staff attorney and lead for the Program to Counter Anti-Muslim Hate, said in the letter.
“Unfortunately, there has also been a pattern of law enforcement officials minimizing the possibility that these crimes may be motivated by bigotry, sending a dangerous message that hate violence is not taken seriously.”

Officer Jeanne MacKenzie, a Tulsa Police spokeswoman, said Tuesday that her agency investigates every case “to the fullest.”

“We don’t exclude anything or anybody by race or sexual preference or anything like that,” she said. A call to the mayor’s office wasn’t immediately returned Tuesday.

The alleged abuse between the neighbors escalated to the point where Haifa Jabara obtained a protective order in 2013 that required Majors to stay 300 yards away and prohibited him from possessing any firearms until 2018. Majors also had a 2009 felony conviction from California for threatening a crime with intent to terrorize.

But last year, Majors was accused of plowing his car into Khalid’s mother, Haifa Jabara. She suffered a broken shoulder, among other injuries. After Majors struck her, he kept driving, prosecutors said. Officers who stopped him later reported that he was intoxicated. Prosecutors charged Majors last September with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, leaving the scene of a collision violating the protective order and public intoxication.

Majors’ conflict with the Jabara family also put him at odds with his husband, Stephen Schmauss, who came to befriend Khalid and thought of him as an apprentice, teaching him how to use power tools and computer circuitry. Last week, Schmauss said his husband had killed his “best friend.”

Schmauss tried to explain Majors’ comments, saying his husband is “textbook bipolar” and a diabetic who refuses to take any medication. Schmauss said anything Majors said to the Jabara family was “done under the bipolar situation.”

While awaiting trial for assault and battery, a judge freed Majors from jail on $60,000 bond, overruling strong objections by Tulsa County prosecutors.