OKLAHOMA CITY –
Oklahoma’s Attorney General has asked the state’s Supreme Court of Appeals to set execution dates for 25 death row inmates after a federal judge denied their challenge to the state’s lethal injection method.
In 25 similar filings with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals on Friday, Attorney General John O’Connor wrote that the federal court’s stays of execution are no longer in force and, therefore, there are no longer any legal obstacles to the execution of inmates who have exhausted their appeals.
The state Department of Corrections has requested that the earliest execution be scheduled for August 25, O’Connor wrote. He requested that the dates be set at four-week intervals due to the time required for a pardon hearing for each inmate before an execution, and that the DOC request that executions be scheduled at least 35 days after the court order.
“In the interest of the families of the victims, many of whom have waited decades, as many executions as possible will be scheduled four weeks apart,” O’Connor wrote.
O’Connor suggested that the first inmate to be executed was James Coddington, whose execution was postponed on March 10 after US District Judge Stephen Friot allowed him to join the lawsuit, which ultimately failed.
A call to a solicitor’s office for Coddington on Saturday went unanswered. Defense attorneys have previously said Codington was mentally ill.
Coddington was found guilty and sentenced to death for the 1997 hammer-murdering murder of colleague Albert Hale in Choctaw, who prosecutors said had refused to loan Coddington $50 to buy drugs.
Second on the list suggested by the filing, based on when each inmate’s appeals were exhausted, would be Richard Glossip, the lead plaintiff in the federal lawsuit. He was hours away from his execution in September 2015 when prison officials realized they had been given the wrong deadly drug.
It was later revealed that the same fake drug had previously been used to execute an inmate, and executions in the state were suspended.
Glossip, who was twice convicted and sentenced to death for killing Barry Van Treese, the owner of the motel where Glossip worked, has pleaded innocent.
Don Knight, Glossip’s attorney, noted that a group of Republican lawmakers questioning Glossip’s guilt have requested a review of the case.
“These results may reveal exculpatory information previously unknown,” Knight said in a statement. “Until everyone has a chance to review the final report, the Attorney General has a moral duty to delay Richard Glossip’s execution.”
Executions in Oklahoma resumed in October with John Grant convulsing on the stretcher and vomiting before being pronounced dead. Since then, three more executions have been carried out without noticeable complications, most recently that of inmate Gilbert Ray Postelle, who was executed on February 17.
Federal Public Defender Jennifer Moreno, one of the attorneys representing the inmates in the failed federal lawsuit, said an appeal of Friot’s verdict is being considered.
She didn’t immediately respond to Saturday messages asking for comment.
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