Board recommends clemency for Oklahoma dying row inmate

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Board of Pardon and Parole on Wednesday voted to suggest clemency for a dying row inmate who has admitted to beating to dying a buddy and co-worker who refused to mortgage him $50 to purchase cocaine.

The board voted 3-2 to suggest Gov. Kevin Stitt grants clemency to James Coddington, 50, who was convicted and sentenced to die for killing 73-year-old Albert Hale inside Hale’s house in Choctaw in 1997. Coddington beat Hale on the pinnacle at the least thrice with a hammer.

Stitt mentioned Wednesday that he hasn’t been formally briefed on Coddington’s case, however that with any clemency advice, he meets with prosecutors, protection attorneys and the sufferer’s household earlier than making a call.

“Typically there’s not even a query of guilt — they’re admitting it, however do they deserve mercy?” Stitt informed The Related Press. “These are all robust questions. What does mercy appear like? What does justice appear like? And I actually take that very severely and get on my own as soon as I get all of the info and make that call.”

State Lawyer Basic John O’Connor mentioned in an announcement that he’ll oppose the advice.

An emotional Coddington, who spoke by video and appeared on the verge of tears, apologized to the Hale household and informed the board that he’s a special man at present.

“I am clear, I do know God, I am not… I am not a vicious assassin,” Coddington mentioned.

“If this ends at present with my dying sentence, OK,” Coddington mentioned earlier than the vote.

Coddington mentioned Hale tried to get him to cease utilizing medication and had been a buddy and “for that he misplaced his life.”

Hale’s son, Mitch Hale, learn statements from himself and sister, Patricia Carey, urging the board to reject the clemency request.

“Please give my dad justice and my household closure. Give James Coddington the identical sentence he gave my dad,” based on the assertion from Carey.

Hale informed the board that he initially hated Coddington, however let go of the hatred.

“I forgive James Coddington, however my forgiveness doesn’t launch him from the results of his actions,” Hale mentioned in urging the board to reject the clemency request.

Assistant Oklahoma Lawyer Basic Caroline Hunt informed the board that Coddington killed Hale to rob him and to keep away from going to jail.

“There might be no justice if Mr. Coddington receives clemency from his dying sentence,” Hunt mentioned.

Protection Lawyer Emma Rolls informed the panel that Coddington, who was 24 on the time, was impaired by years of alcohol and drug abuse that started when he was an toddler and his father put beer and whiskey into his child bottles.

“The Board has acknowledged the listening to that his case exemplifies the circumstances for which clemency exists,” Rolls mentioned in an announcement following. “We urge Governor Stitt to undertake the Board’s advice.”

Coddington was twice sentenced to dying within the case, the second time in 2008 after his preliminary sentence was overturned on attraction.

The clemency advice now goes to Stitt, a Republican in his first time period who’s up for reelection this 12 months. he has authorized one clemency request, that of Julius Jones, and rejected one, that of Bigler Stouffer, who was put to dying in December.

Coddington is ready to be put to dying Aug. 25, the primary of six inmates scheduled for execution after the federal decide rejected a problem by them and 19 different dying row inmates to the state’s deadly injection technique.

The chair of the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Demise Penalty, Rev. Don Heath, mentioned he’s “stunned however happy” by the board’s advice.

“We ask Gov. Stitt to learn the clemency packet, to observe the clemency listening to … and we hope that he’ll enable James Coddington to spend the remainder of his pure life behind bars,” Heath mentioned in an announcement.

Oklahoma had one of many nation’s busiest dying chambers till issues in 2014 and 2015 led to a de facto moratorium. Richard Glossip was simply hours from being executed in September 2015 when jail officers realized they obtained the incorrect deadly drug. It was later discovered the identical incorrect drug had been used to run one other man in January 2015.

The drug mix-ups adopted a botched execution in April 2014 during which inmate Clayton Lockett struggled on a gurney earlier than dying 43 minutes into his deadly injection — and after the state’s prisons chief ordered executioners to cease.

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Related Press reporter Sean Murphy in Oklahoma Metropolis contributed to this report.

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