Oklahoma executes James Coddington for 1997 hammer murder | Criminal law

McALESTER, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma executed a man Thursday for a 1997 murder, despite a recommendation from the state’s pardons and parole board that his life be spared.

James Coddington, 50, was lethally injected at Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester and was pronounced dead at 10:16 a.m. Governor Kevin Stitt refused to commute Coddington’s sentence to life in prison without parole and denied his request for clemency. Coddington is the fifth Oklahoma inmate to be put to death since the state resumed executions last year.

‘To all my family and friends, to the lawyers, to everyone who has been around me and loved me, thank you,’ Coddington said as he was tied to a stretcher inside the bedroom. of death. “Governor Stitt, I don’t blame you and I forgive you.”

After delivering his final words, Coddington looked up and gave a thumbs up to his attorney, Emma Rolls, who wept softly in the witness room.

After administration of the first drug, midazolam, Coddington’s breathing became labored and his chest contracted several times. A doctor on the enforcement team declared him unconscious at 10:08 a.m. and Coddington could be heard snoring inside the bedroom.

Coddington was convicted and sentenced to death for beating 73-year-old Albert Hale to death with a hammer. Prosecutors say Coddington, then 24, became enraged when Hale refused to give him money to buy cocaine.

At a clemency hearing this month before the state’s five-member pardons and parole board, an emotional Coddington apologized to Hale’s family and said he was a man different today.

But Mitch Hale, Albert Hale’s son who witnessed the execution, said he didn’t believe Coddington was genuinely remorseful, noting he never mentioned his father or the Hale family during of his last words.

“He proved today that it wasn’t genuine. He never apologized,” Hale said. “He didn’t raise my father.”

Hale added, “I forgive him, but that doesn’t release him from the consequences of his actions.”

Rolls, Coddington’s lawyer, told the clemency hearing that Coddington was weakened by years of alcohol and drug abuse which began as a baby when his father put on beer and whiskey in her bottles.

Coddington has twice been sentenced to death for Hale’s murder, the second time in 2008 after his original sentence was overturned on appeal.

After killing Hale, Coddington committed at least six armed robberies at gas stations and convenience stores in Oklahoma City.

“When all of the circumstances of the murder, the related robberies and the extensive history of violence on the part of Mr. Coddington are taken into account, one thing is clear: death is the only just punishment for him,” prosecutors wrote. state attorney general’s office. Pardons and Conditional Release Commission.

The state halted the executions in September 2015 when prison officials realized they had been given the deadly wrong drug. It later emerged that the same bad drug had been used to execute an inmate, and executions in the state were suspended.