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Oklahoma Highway Patrol Traffic Stop Results in 37 Years of Imprisonment for Three Felons

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

Oklahoma Highway Patrol Traffic Stop Results in 37 Years of Imprisonment for Three Felons

U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Oklahoma
September 24, 2009


OKLAHOMA CITY, OK—Robert J. Troester, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma, announced today that three convicted felons stopped during a routine traffic stop on the Turner Turnpike were sentenced to a combined total of 37 years in prison for possessing guns and ammunition in their car. EDWARD KATSUAKI SHIGEMURA, 62, of Missouri was sentenced to 78 months of imprisonment for being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition. On August 26, 2009, JOHN E. KITCHELL, 56, of Illinois, was sentenced to 188 months imprisonment for possessing the guns and ammunition. The same day, JOHN HARVEY SPROUS, 48, of Springfield, Missouri was sentenced to 180 months of imprisonment for possessing the guns and ammunition.

On the evening of February 24, 2009, an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper saw a red Chevrolet Impala exit the Turner Turnpike near Stroud. The vehicle did not display a turn signal as it exited Interstate 44 westbound to pay the toll. The trooper then saw the car cross two more lanes of traffic without signaling. The trooper stopped the car after it left the toll plaza. The driver of the car was Edward Katsuaki Shigemura, and the two passengers were John E. Kitchell and John Harvey Sprous. The trooper asked the driver to come to the patrol car while the trooper issued a warning. While writing a warning to Shigemura for the unsafe lane change, the trooper talked to Shigemura about their travel plans and his passengers. The trooper learned that the car was a rental vehicle, and that Kitchell was the only authorized driver. The trooper approached Kitchell and Sprous, still in the rental car. The trooper verified their identifications and asked similar questions about travel plans. The three men were nervous in their responses and told the trooper inconsistent stories about their travel destination and whom they were going to visit. Based on the inconsistent travel plans, the nervous demeanor of the three men, and the manner in which they responded to questions, the trooper decided to have his drug canine walk around the car. The canine alerted and indicated to the presence of narcotics inside the vehicle.

Troopers then searched the interior of the rental car. Troopers found in the trunk of the car five handguns and a rifle; five of the guns were loaded. Troopers also discovered in the trunk of the car handcuffs, heavy-duty zip ties, duct tape, gloves, a black hat with the letters “FBI,” a black hat with the letters “NARC,” a police scanner and a map of Dallas-Ft. Worth with the DFW airport circled. A backpack in the trunk had $41,983 in cash. Kitchell had $17,504.36 in his pocket, and Shigemura had $2,870.39 on him; Sprous had $11.18 in his pocket. The money found in the trunk of the car was tested by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and found to contain drug residue.

All three men are convicted felons. Shigemura, Kitchell and Sprous each had six prior felony convictions. A federal grand jury indicted the three men for being felons in possession of firearms and ammunition. On May 26, 2009, Sprous pled guilty to the offense. On May 27, 2009, a federal jury convicted Kitchell and Shigemura of being felons in possession of the firearms and ammunition. On August 26, 2009, United States District Judge Robin J. Cauthron sentenced Sprous to 180 months of imprisonment. The same day, Judge Cauthron sentenced Kitchell to 188 months of imprisonment for possession of the guns and ammunition. Based on their violent criminal histories, Kitchell and Sprous were sentenced as armed career criminals, with a mandatory minimum of 15 years of imprisonment. Today, Shigemura was sentenced to 78 months of imprisonment for possessing the guns and ammunition. In addition to prison terms, Sprous and Kitchell were ordered to serve five years of supervised release following their release from prison; Judge Cauthron ordered Shigemura to serve three years of supervised release following his release from custody.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Oklahoma Highway Patrol. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chris M. Stephens and Andre’ B. Caldwell.

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