Brilliant Arguments

Noodler Guilty of Murdering Alleged Bigfoot-Summoner

Seen here in California

So a while back an Oklahoma man was charged with killing a friend during a noodling expedition despite his claim that he acted in self-defense because the victim was trying to summon Bigfoot to kill him. See Good Reason to Kill #77: Summoned Bigfoot to Kill You First” (July 13, 2022). Some were skeptical of that claim, including me, and also including local prosecutors. The trial of 55-year-old Larry Doil Sanders Sr. began on April 16, and somehow lasted into a second day. It did not end well for the defendant.

There was never any doubt that Sanders killed the victim—partly because he confessed to it almost immediately. His daughter, in fact, testified that he confessed repeatedly when he got home. She wasn’t sure how many times. “‘More than five?’ [the prosecutor] asked. ‘Oh, yeah,” [she] replied emphatically,” adding that he “didn’t seem remorseful” about what had happened. (According to the report, the daughter testified that she “did not have a good relationship with her father.”)

The real questions were “why did he do that” and “is that a good reason.”

An agent who interrogated Sanders the day after the crime testified that Sanders had been “eager to speak with him” and proceeded to tell him “fantastical things about Bigfoot.” The agent claimed Sanders told him the victim acted suspiciously, such as when he “yelled or howled into a tinhorn, which Sanders interpreted as a call to Bigfoot to come and eat him (Sanders).” If he didn’t kill the victim, Sanders reportedly told the agent, “then he [Sanders] would be killed, presumably by a sasquatch.”

Well, that’s what the agent claimed. Is that what Sanders really said? Probably, but it didn’t matter because Sanders said all that and more on the witness stand. Yes, in what the report describes as “a surprise move” and “against his attorney’s advice,” Sanders took the stand in his own defense. He pretty much confirmed the agent’s story, adding details that will lengthen this article but weren’t going to help him at all.

Among other things, Sanders expanded on the victim’s “suspicious” behavior. For example, he took a phone call, “walked away from Sanders, and would occasionally look over his shoulder” while doing so. That’d be enough for me, but according to Sanders, more oddities followed after the two men arrived at the river where they planned to noodle (see the post linked above if “noodling” is still a mystery to you).

He noticed that rocks in the area displayed “American Indian carvings,” and said it made him uncomfortable to be in a “sacred” area. Above these rocks, Sanders noticed a tinhorn, though “there was no reason for it to be there as it had no purpose.” Nearby, he saw someone in fatigues who “appeared to be a National Guardsman.” Just then, the victim “howled while standing close to the tinhorn,” an action Sanders described as using “just a wailing lungful of air.” Not long after this, Sanders saw a 12-foot-tall sasquatch about 50 yards away “with its toe in the water.” Asked whether he had alerted the victim to the sasquatch’s presence, Sanders replied, “I’m pretty sure he was aware of it,” which, he implied, was how he knew it would arrive when summoned. Sanders claimed he later saw two other creatures (also “presumably sasquatches,” the report says) in the area as well. He interpreted all this as evidence of a plot against him, hence the need for self-defense.

Well, this raises a fairly obvious question: what the F is a “tinhorn”?

The 2022 report printed this as two words (“tin horn”), so I assumed it was something like a hunting horn that one might blow to summon accomplices. Are those horns ever made out of tin? How do I know? What am I, some kind of hunting-horn expert? In any event, more recent reports consistently spell it as one word. That word, “tinhorn,” is generally used to mean a person who pretends to have substance but is actually cheap and showy, as in the phrase “tinhorn gambler,” itself said to be derived from the use of “a metal dice-shaker in chuck-a-luck games, scorned as petty” by those playing for higher stakes. I guess it’s not impossible that one of those guys was around that day. But it turns out “tinhorn” can also refer to a kind of metal drainage pipe—the kind you might find, for example, at Tinhorns’R’Us, which claims to have the “largest on-site tinhorn and corrugated plastic pipe inventory in Oklahoma.” That is just the kind of thing that might amplify the howl of a sasquatch-caller, so that’s probably what we’re talking about here.

I suppose the story also raises another question: was Sanders on drugs at the time? That, surprisingly, is not clear.

It is clear that Sanders has been on drugs, apparently quite often. He reportedly “used cannabis daily,” which I guess was seen as relevant in Oklahoma. Far more relevant was his frequent meth use, which was described as “sporadic” between 1990 and 2004, and “two to three times per week” after that. He reportedly last used it a few days before the crime, but not on that particular morning. Still, the defense argued, this history was enough to establish a “drug-induced mood disorder” that might have caused a psychotic episode on the day of the crime.

According to the report, it was undisputed that “Sanders believes that bigfoot and/or sasquatches exist,” and that “his bigfoot rhetoric is more pronounced when he is under the influence of the drug.” That may have been offered to imply that he was under the influence on the day of the crime, but there doesn’t seem to have been direct evidence of this. (If he wasn’t, I can only imagine what his Bigfoot rhetoric is like on meth days.)

That was a problem for the defense, because while Oklahoma recognizes a “voluntary intoxication” defense, it’s very difficult to prove. The first element, not surprisingly, is that “the defendant was intoxicated.” The second element requires evidence that the defendant “was so utterly intoxicated” that it was impossible for him to form the specific intent to commit murder. Similarly, the insanity defense under Oklahoma law requires evidence that the defendant didn’t know right from wrong. A purported fear that you might be murdered by a gang of sasquatches, while questionable, doesn’t establish that.

I have no idea if this came up at trial, but Sanders’ self-defense argument had a giant hole in it even setting aside the Bigfoot part. According to Sanders’ trial testimony, at least, the victim had already summoned the sasquatches to feast on Sanders, so killing him at that point wasn’t going to help. Or does killing the summoner banish the summoned creatures? I don’t know how it works. But I doubt there was any evidence to support that idea. Possibly for that reason, or maybe because of the multiple confessions and all the other evidence, the judge did find Sanders guilty of first-degree murder.

Sentencing is scheduled for June 18. Expect a long one, possibly in protective custody. The sasquatches are still out there, remember.