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August 24, 2022

Oklahoma Gov reject's state board's clemency recommendation for first of many scheduled to be executed in coming months

As reported in this CNN piece, "Oklahoma's governor has declined to grant clemency to death row inmate James Coddington, whose scheduled execution Thursday is set to be the first of 25 the state plans to carry out through 2024."  Here is more:

Coddington, 50, was sentenced to death for the 1997 murder of Albert Hale -- a man he considered his friend -- while struggling with a crack cocaine addiction. His attorneys and advocates had called for his sentence to be commuted to life in prison, pointing to his case as one of redemption.  Coddington long has expressed sincere remorse for killing Hale, they say, and has worked to transform his life while on death row.

Coddington's remorse, an "exemplary" prison record and his traumatic childhood were among the mitigating factors his supporters highlighted before the Oklahoma Board of Pardons and Parole this month recommended clemency in his case, leaving the final decision up to GOP Gov. Kevin Stitt.  "After thoroughly reviewing arguments and evidence presented by all sides of the case, Governor Kevin Stitt has denied the Pardon and Parole Board's clemency recommendation for James Allen Coddington," a brief statement from the governor's office said.

Emma Rolls, one of Coddington's attorneys, said the inmate and his legal team were "profoundly disheartened" by the governor's decision, but thanked the parole board for its "careful consideration" of Coddington's case.  Its clemency recommendation "acknowledged James's sincere remorse and meaningful transformation during his years on death row," she said. "James is loved by many people," Rolls said in a statement to CNN, "and he has touched the hearts of many. He is a good man."

Coddington, whose execution by lethal injection is scheduled for Thursday at 10 a.m. CT, will be the first of more than two dozen inmates to be put to death in a controversial series of executions Oklahoma officials plan to carry out between now and December 2024 -- at a pace of about one man a month. Opponents and experts have been critical of the plan, pointing to outstanding questions of some inmates' potential innocence or mental fitness, as well as the state's recent history of botched lethal injections....

"Oklahomans overwhelmingly voted in 2016 to preserve the death penalty as a consequence for the most heinous murders," Oklahoma Attorney General John O'Connor said in a July 1 statement as the execution dates were set. "I'm certain that justice and safety for all of us drove that vote."...

Hale's family did not support clemency -- though his son said at Coddington's clemency hearing he had forgiven the man who murdered his father. "I am here to say that I forgive James Coddington," Mitch Hale said during Coddington's clemency hearing, according to CNN affiliate KOCO. "But my forgiveness does not release him from the consequence of his actions." O'Connor was "disappointed" by the board's ruling, he said in a statement at the time.

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August 24, 2022 at 04:22 PM | Permalink

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