Board recommends clemency for Oklahoma death row inmate (2023)

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Board recommends clemency for Oklahoma death row inmate

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(Video) Gov. Stitt denies clemency recommendation for Oklahoma death row inmate Bigler Stouffer

FILE - This Feb. 5, 2021, photo provided by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections shows James Coddington. The Oklahoma Board of Pardon and Parole is recommending clemency for death row inmate Coddington. The board voted 3-2 on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022, to recommend Gov. Kevin Stitt grant clemency to Coddington, who was convicted and sentenced to die for killing 73-year-old Albert Hale inside Hale's home in Choctaw in 1997.

In this photo from a video screen, death row inmate James Coddington, speaks to the Oklahoma Board of Pardon and Parole Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022, in Oklahoma City. An emotional Coddington apologized to the victim's family and said he is "OK" with the death penalty, but told the board that he is a different man today.

  • Sue Ogrocki - staff, AP

In this photo from a video screen, death row inmate James Coddington, right, speaks to the Oklahoma Board of Pardon and Parole Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022, in Oklahoma City. Julie Gardner, investigator at the Oklahoma Federal Defenders Office, is at left. An emotional Coddington apologized to the victim's family and said he is "OK" with the death penalty, but told the board that he is a different man today.

  • Sue Ogrocki - staff, AP

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt is pictured during an interview in his office Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022, in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma Board of Pardon and Parole has recommended clemency for death row inmate James Coddington. Stitt said that he hasn't been formally briefed on Coddington's case, but that with any clemency recommendation, he meets with prosecutors, defense attorneys and the victim's family before making a decision.

  • Sue Ogrocki - staff, AP

Emma Rolls, left, attorney for death row inmate James Coddington, speaks to the Oklahoma Board of Pardon and Parole during a clemency hearing Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022, in Oklahoma City. At right is paralegal Kim Ludwig.

  • Sue Ogrocki - staff, AP
(Video) Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recommend clemency for second death-row inmate

Oklahoma Board of Pardon and Parole members Larry Morris, left, and Richard Smothermon, right, talk during a break in a clemency hearing for death row inmate James Coddington, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022, in Oklahoma City. Both men voted to recommend Gov. Kevin Stitt grant clemency to Coddington.

  • Sue Ogrocki - staff, AP

Emma Rolls, center, attorney for death row inmate James Coddington, reacts after the Oklahoma Board of Pardon and Parole recommended clemency for Coddington at a hearing Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022, in Oklahoma City.

  • Sue Ogrocki - staff, AP

Angela Merrell, the fiancé of death row inmate James Coddington, listens during an Oklahoma Board of Pardon and Parole meeting Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022, in Oklahoma City.

  • Sue Ogrocki - staff, AP
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By KEN MILLER - Associated Press

(Video) Oklahoma Pardon & Parole Board Recommends Clemency For James Coddington

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Board of Pardon and Parole on Wednesday voted to recommend clemency for a death row inmate who has admitted to beating to death a friend and co-worker who refused to loan him $50 to buy cocaine.

The board voted 3-2 to recommend Gov. Kevin Stitt grant clemency to James Coddington, 50, who was convicted and sentenced to die for killing 73-year-old Albert Hale inside Hale's home in Choctaw in 1997. Coddington beat Hale on the head at least three times with a hammer.

Stitt said Wednesday that he hasn't been formally briefed on Coddington's case, but that with any clemency recommendation, he meets with prosecutors, defense attorneys and the victim's family before making a decision.

“Sometimes there's not even a question of guilt — they're admitting it, but do they deserve mercy?" Stitt told The Associated Press. “Those are all tough questions. What does mercy look like? What does justice look like? And I really take that very seriously and get by myself once I get all the facts and make that decision."

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State Attorney General John O'Connor said in a statement that he will oppose the recommendation.

An emotional Coddington, who spoke by video and appeared on the verge of tears, apologized to the Hale family and told the board that he is a different man today.

“I'm clean, I know God, I'm not ... I'm not a vicious murderer,” Coddington said.

“If this ends today with my death sentence, OK,” Coddington said before the vote.

Coddington said Hale tried to get him to stop using drugs and had been a friend and "for that he lost his life.”

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

“Please give my dad justice and my family closure. Give James Coddington the same sentence he gave my dad,” according to the statement from Carey.

Hale told the board that he initially hated Coddington, but let go of the hatred.

“I forgive James Coddington, but my forgiveness does not release him from the consequences of his actions,” Hale said in urging the board to reject the clemency request.

Assistant Oklahoma Attorney General Caroline Hunt told the board that Coddington killed Hale to rob him and to avoid going to prison.

“There will be no justice if Mr. Coddington receives clemency from his death sentence,” Hunt said.

Defense Attorney Emma Rolls told the panel that Coddington, who was 24 at the time, was impaired by years of alcohol and drug abuse that began when he was an infant and his father put beer and whiskey into his baby bottles.

“The Board has acknowledged that his case exemplifies the circumstances for which clemency exists,” Rolls said in a statement following the hearing. "We urge Governor Stitt to adopt the Board’s recommendation.”

(Video) Clemency recommended for Oklahoma death row inmate James Coddington

Coddington was twice sentenced to death in the case, the second time in 2008 after his initial sentence was overturned on appeal.

The clemency recommendation now goes to Stitt, a Republican in his first term who is up for reelection this year. He has approved one clemency request, that of Julius Jones, and rejected one, that of Bigler Stouffer, who was put to death in December.

Coddington is set to be put to death Aug. 25, the first of six inmates scheduled for execution after a federal judge rejected a challenge by them and 19 other death row inmates to the state’s lethal injection method.

The chair of the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Rev. Don Heath, said he is “surprised but pleased” by the board's recommendation.

"We ask Gov. Stitt to read the clemency packet, to watch the clemency hearing ... and we hope that he will allow James Coddington to spend the rest of his natural life behind bars,” Heath said in a statement.

Oklahoma had one of the nation’s busiest death chambers until problems in 2014 and 2015 led to a de facto moratorium. Richard Glossip was just hours from being executed in September 2015 when prison officials realized they received the wrong lethal drug. It was later learned the same wrong drug had been used to execute another man in January 2015.

The drug mix-ups followed a botched execution in April 2014 in which inmate Clayton Lockett struggled on a gurney before dying 43 minutes into his lethal injection — and after the state’s prisons chief ordered executioners to stop.

Associated Press reporter Sean Murphy in Oklahoma City contributed to this report.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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FAQs

Who can grant clemency in a death penalty case? ›

Clemency is the process by which a governor, president, or administrative board may reduce a defendant's sentence or grant a pardon. Clemencies have been granted in death-penalty cases for a variety of reasons.

Who is James Coddington? ›

James Coddington, 50, who admitted killing 73-year-old Albert Hale with a hammer, was executed by lethal injection at a state prison in McAlester, Okla. Oklahoma resumed carrying out some executions in October 2021 after a pause of nearly seven years that followed a series of botched executions.

Can you get pardoned on death row? ›

Capital Punishment Clemency

Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, hundreds of death row inmates have been granted clemency for humanitarian reasons. Humanitarian reasons include doubts about the defendant's guilt and conclusions by the governor regarding the death penalty process.

What does death row inmate clemency mean? ›

What is clemency? Clemency essentially means that a death row prisoner is granted mercy. It can take many forms and is granted by the governor, usually with a recommendation from the board of pardons.

What are the three types of clemency? ›

The president may also grant clemency in the form of a commutation (reduction) of a sentence, remission (relief) of a fine or restitution, or a reprieve (temporary suspension) of punishment.

What is difference between clemency and pardon? ›

Clemency is a general term used for the act of reducing the penalties of a crime, similar to a commutation. Also, pardons are actually considered a form of clemency. If you receive a pardon, you are always receiving clemency, but if you receive clemency, you are not always receiving a pardon.

Who is Scott eizember? ›

TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) — The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals set execution dates for six death row inmates Friday. One of those inmates, Scott Eizember, spent more than a month on the run after murdering a Depew couple in 2003. He's set to die in January.

Do people on death row have rights? ›

Anyone sentenced to death shall have the right to seek pardon, or commutation of sentence; pardon or commutation of sentence may be granted in all cases of capital punishment.

Can you appeal a death sentence? ›

Any person who has been sentenced to the death penalty (now called an appellant) has a right to appeal. Some states allow the sentence and the verdict to be appealed separately. The defense team has a number of steps they can pursue.

What is the difference between clemency and commutation? ›

In the judicial system, the meaning of clemency generally refers to a decision by an authority to reduce the punishment. Clemency can take the form of a pardon, which completely absolves an individual of guilt, or a commutation, which reduces the sentence without forgiving the person convicted.

What is a sentence for clemency? ›

1, She was granted clemency after killing her violent husband. 2, He appealed to the judge for clemency. 3, Wilson is the only one who can grant clemency.

Does clemency mean freedom? ›

Clemency is defined as leniency granted for a crime. It does not mean that the crime gets overlooked or forgotten. But, in a sense it means the state forgives the crime. A person gets treated more leniently for their actions.

What does it mean when a death sentence is commuted? ›

A commutation of sentence is a reduction in sentence. In a commutation of sentence, a person is not absolved from a conviction completely, but, his/her punishment is substituted with a lesser punishment. For example, a death sentence may be commuted to a sentence of imprisonment for life[i].

How do you ask a judge for clemency? ›

A person asking for a commutation of a sentence of a federal crime must fill out a six-page application form. Often this application is also known as a clemency letter. The petitioner must specify what conviction they are seeking a commutation for if they have more than one.

Who can stop an execution? ›

In federal death penalty cases the trial court, appeals courts, the United States Supreme Court and President may grant a stay of execution. In all cases, the stay may be issued at any time, even when the condemned is being prepared for execution.

Who can commute a death sentence? ›

Section 54 of the Indian Penal Code says that in every case in which sentence of death shall have been passed, the appropriate Government may, without the consent of the offender, commute the punishment for any other punishment provided by this Code.

What are the requirements before commutation is granted? ›

The Board may review the petition of a prisoner for commutation of sentence if the following minimum requirements are met: (a) At least one-third (1/3) of the definite or aggre- gate prison terms; (b) At least one-half (1/2) of the minimum of indeter- minate or aggregate minimum of the indeterminate prison term.

What clemency means? ›

Clemency is a mechanism for granting a person convicted of a criminal offense relief from a court-ordered sentence or punitive measure. There are two main methods through which clemency can be given—pardon or commutation of sentence.

Does accepting a pardon admit guilt? ›

Put simply, a presidential pardon does not denote innocence or change an existing conviction. Rather, it represents forgiveness. When one accepts a presidential pardon, he or she is not admitting guilt or waiving habeas rights.

Is Kosoul chanthakoummane still alive? ›

Chanthakoummane was injected with a lethal dose of pentobarbital at 6:18 p.m. in the state's death chamber in Huntsville, and he was pronounced dead 15 minutes later. In his final statement, Chanthakoummane thanked Jesus, his supporters and prison ministers “for aiding me in my journey.”

Where is Scott eizember? ›

Prosecutors say Hanson and another man carjacked Bowles at Tulsa Promenade and took her to a dirt site where Thurman was working before the man he was with killed Thurman and Hanson shot Bowles several times. Scott Eizember is scheduled to be executed in Oklahoma on Jan. 12, 2023.

Do death row inmates get conjugal visits? ›

2d 1101.) Even in states that allow conjugal visits for other prisoners, death row prisoners are not entitled to conjugal visits, and no state officially permits conjugal visits for death row prisoners.

How many people are on death row in Oklahoma? ›

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals has set execution dates for 25 of the state's 43 death-row prisoners, scheduling nearly an execution a month from August 2022 through December 2024.

What is death watch in Oklahoma? ›

Death watch is a three-day period before an execution when strict guidelines are implemented to maintain the security and control of a condemned offender and to maintain safe and orderly operations of the prison.

How many appeals do death row inmates get? ›

While the defendant gets only one direct appeal in the California Supreme Court, it is typical for the defen dant to request permission from the courts to file more than one habeas corpus petition in state and federal courts.

Can a death sentence be overturned? ›

Federal judges have overturned 19 death sentences because of constitutionally defective representation — half of all the cases they have reversed. In the state Supreme Court, by comparison, incompetent representation is the third-most-common reason for reversals.

How long does a death row appeal take? ›

Measuring from date of death sentence, it took a median 966 days to complete direct appeal. Petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court added 188 days where certiorari was denied, and a median 250 days where certiorari was granted and the issues were decided on the merits.

Who will recommend to the board of pardons and parole a prisoner for commutation? ›

THE SECRETARY OF JUSTICE MAY RECOMMEND A PAROLEE OR A PARDONEE ON TEMPORARY RELEASE ON PAROLE OR CONDITIONAL PARDON, RESPECTIVELY, FOR EXECUTIVE CLEMENCY WHEN THE PAROLEE OR PARDONEE HAS COMMITTED AS EXTRAORDINARY ACT OF HEROISM Page 5 WHILE OUTSIDE THE? PENAL. INSTITUTION ON PAROLE OR CONDITIONAL PARDON.” Section 4.

What are clemency powers? ›

In the federal system, commutation of sentence and pardon are different forms of executive clemency, which is a broad term that applies to the President's constitutional power to exercise leniency toward persons who have committed federal crimes.

Who may grant commutation of sentence? ›

It refers to the Commutation of Sentence, Conditional Pardon and Absolute Pardon maybe granted by the president upon recommendation of the Board.

What is executive grant of clemency? ›

In the United States, executive clemency refers to the general powers of the president and of governors to pardon, grant amnesty, commutation, or reprieve to individuals who have either been convicted of or may face the prospect of conviction for a criminal offense.

What is the process for granting clemency in Texas quizlet? ›

There is no procedure for clemency in Texas. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles makes a unilateral collective decision. The governor has complete control of whether to grant clemency. The governor must follow the recommendations of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Who can commute a death sentence? ›

Section 54 of the Indian Penal Code says that in every case in which sentence of death shall have been passed, the appropriate Government may, without the consent of the offender, commute the punishment for any other punishment provided by this Code.

Does clemency serve as a safeguard in capital punishment? ›

“The Supreme Court of the United States has described executive clemency as the ”fail safe' in [the]… criminal justice system. ' In death-penalty cases that fail safe is essential… In short, clemency truly does have the potential to be the fail safe of the criminal justice system.

How does the board consider cases for executive clemency? ›

— The Board may consider cases for executive clemency upon petition, or referral by the Office of the President, or motu proprio.

What are the qualifications to avail the executive clemency? ›

The Board may review the petition of a prisoner for commutation of sentence if the following minimum requirements are met: (a) At least one-third (1/3) of the definite or aggre- gate prison terms; (b) At least one-half (1/2) of the minimum of indeter- minate or aggregate minimum of the indeterminate prison term.

What does it mean when a death sentence is commuted? ›

A commutation of sentence is a reduction in sentence. In a commutation of sentence, a person is not absolved from a conviction completely, but, his/her punishment is substituted with a lesser punishment. For example, a death sentence may be commuted to a sentence of imprisonment for life[i].

What is the average amount of time an inmate spends on death row in Texas before execution? ›

Texas has one of the most generous compensation systems in the nation for the wrongfully convicted. The average time spent on death row prior to execution is 10.87 years.

Why would a defendant decide to accept a plea bargain quizlet? ›

By accepting a plea bargain, offered by the prosecutor, a defendant is pleading guilty, thereby forfeiting his right to a trial. These plea deals result in a lesser sentence than if the defendant was convicted at trial. This is the primary motivation to accept the plea deal.

What is tort law quizlet? ›

Tort Law. an act or omission that gives rise to injury or harm to another and amounts to a civil wrong for which courts impose liability--can be redressed by awarding damages. injury. invasion of any legal right. harm.

What is the difference between clemency and commutation? ›

In the judicial system, the meaning of clemency generally refers to a decision by an authority to reduce the punishment. Clemency can take the form of a pardon, which completely absolves an individual of guilt, or a commutation, which reduces the sentence without forgiving the person convicted.

What's the difference between a pardon and commutation? ›

Pardons forgive the defendant for the crime, while commutation only reduces the sentence. Acceptance. Prisoners must accept pardons, but some states allow commuted sentences without the prisoner's consent. Civil rights.

Who may grant commutation of sentence and pardon? ›

It refers to the Commutation of Sentence, Conditional Pardon and Absolute Pardon maybe granted by the president upon recommendation of the Board.

Do people on death row have rights? ›

Anyone sentenced to death shall have the right to seek pardon, or commutation of sentence; pardon or commutation of sentence may be granted in all cases of capital punishment.

Can you appeal a death sentence? ›

Any person who has been sentenced to the death penalty (now called an appellant) has a right to appeal. Some states allow the sentence and the verdict to be appealed separately. The defense team has a number of steps they can pursue.

Who can stop an execution? ›

In federal death penalty cases the trial court, appeals courts, the United States Supreme Court and President may grant a stay of execution. In all cases, the stay may be issued at any time, even when the condemned is being prepared for execution.

Videos

1. Sharing his story, advocates of Oklahoma death row inmate James Coddington ask for clemency
(The Oklahoman)
2. Oklahoma death row inmate James Coddington makes emotional plea to Pardon and Parole Board
(The Oklahoman)
3. WEBINAR: Ending Oklahoma's Death Penalty: How Catholics and Evangelicals Can Get Involved
(CMNEndDeathPenalty)
4. Pardon and Parole Board set to review clemency for two Oklahoma death row inmates
(KOCO 5 News)
5. Pardon and Parole Board to review clemency for Oklahoma death row inmate Gilbert Postelle
(KOCO 5 News)
6. Former DOC Director Speaks Out On Coddington’s Behalf Ahead Of Execution
(News 9 YouTube)
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