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August 26, 2021

Might Oklahoma really try to move forward with seven executions over the next six months?

The question in the title of this post is prompted by this new local article headlined "Oklahoma AG requests execution dates for seven state death row inmates." Here are the basics:

Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor late Wednesday asked the Court of Criminal Appeals to set execution dates for seven death row inmates, including Julius Jones. The action comes after the state put the death penalty on hold following the 2014 botched execution of Clayton Lockett, the 2015 execution of Charles Warner using the wrong drug, a review of the protocol and litigation.

O’Connor asked that Jones’ execution date be set for Oct. 28. Jones, who has waged a public relations campaign claiming innocence, is set for a Sept. 13 commutation hearing before the Pardon and Parole Board. However, with the O’Connor filing seeking an execution date, that could change to a clemency hearing a later date, said Tom Bates, Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board director.

The board has scheduled a meeting for next week to discuss the potential resumption of executions and the scheduling of clemency hearings. Jones was convicted of the 1999 murder of Edmond businessman Paul Howell.

O’Connor asked the court to set a Feb. 10 execution date for James Allen Coddington, who was sentenced to death for the 1997 killing of Albert Hale in Oklahoma County. He also requested that a Dec. 30 execution date be set for Donald Anthony Grant. He was sentenced to death for the 2001 murders of Del City motel workers Brenda McElyea and Suzette Smith.

An Oct. 7 date was requested by John Marion Grant Grant, who was sentenced for the 1998 killing of Gray Carter, a prison kitchen worker at the Dick Connor Correctional Center in Hominy. Wade Greely Lay, sentenced to death for the 2004 killing of a Tulsa security guard Kenny Anderson, was petitioned to be sentenced on Dec. 9.

The court was also asked to set a Jan. 20 execution date for Gilbert Ray Postelle. Postelle was convicted at trial of killing four people in 2005 outside a trailer in Del City. He received the death penalty for two of the murders.

A execution date of Nov.18 was requested for Bigler Jobe Stouffer.  Stouffer was sentenced to death for the 1985 killing of Putnam City teacher Linda Reaves.

I believe there have only been four state executions nationwide since the start of the pandemic nearly 18 months ago, so I am inclined to assume that this request for multiple execution dates over the next six months from the Oklahoma AG is mostly a symbolic effort primarily intended to signal the AG's eagerness to move forward with executions and to keep capital proceedings moving along.  But when former US AG William Barr announced his intent in 2019 to restart federal executions after a long delay, I underestimated just how effectual a motivated AG could be in getting the machinery of death back in action.  So stay tuned.

August 26, 2021 at 12:42 PM | Permalink


A bit ironic that the state where a key Supreme Court case showing the justices (including Kennedy) was not in the mood to take very seriously the idea that lethal injection can be problematic (only more firmly later on in an opinion by Gorsuch) arose out of Oklahoma.

Only a bit -- repeatedly, these cases rejected by the Supreme Court turn out to not result in an execution. The state courts or some other state action results in blocking the execution. Here, we had an extended moratorium.

As Prof. Lain recently noted, time has not made lethal injection seem much more reliable overall. But, since 1990, Oklahoma executed over 100 people. So, yes, I can see them wanting to get back into the execution business. 3-5 executions seem possible.

Next up anyway is Texas, next month.

Posted by: Joe | Aug 26, 2021 8:25:13 PM

I could have sworn the death machinery there was already running in high gear. After all, they had 14 more COVID fatalities just in the last 48 hours or so. Then you also have the thousands of recent new cases. So throwing in another 7 deaths from executions just seems like gilding the lily at that point. But I guess it gives an idea of what the state views as its biggest priority.



Posted by: kotodama | Aug 27, 2021 11:01:35 AM

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