OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma death row inmate linked by DNA to the death of a Korean woman 18 years after the crime is scheduled to be executed Tuesday in the state’s fourth execution since the start of the year.
Anthony Rozelle Banks, 61, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death for the June 6, 1979, killing of Sun I. “Kim” Travis in Tulsa County. Banks was already serving a life prison sentence following his conviction for the April 11, 1978, slaying of a Tulsa convenience store clerk during an armed robbery when genetic evidence linked him to Travis’ death.
Travis was abducted from the parking lot of a Tulsa apartment complex and later raped and shot in the head. Her partially clothed body was found in a roadside ditch on the city’s north side on the morning following her disappearance.
Her former husband, Steve Travis, testified during the sentencing phase of Banks’ 1999 trial that he met his wife while serving in the U.S. Air Force in Korea, where she struggled to support her father and three younger brothers. The couple married and eventually moved to Tulsa, where Travis enrolled in school and his wife continued to work, “sending money home to her family.”
“Banks and a co-defendant, Allen Wayne Nelson, 54, were charged in the victim’s death in August 1997, when their DNA was detected in evidence found on Travis’ body and clothing. A 12-member jury convicted Nelson of first-degree murder and sentenced him to life in prison.
Banks was already in prison when he was linked to Sun Travis’ death following his conviction for the 1978 slaying of David Fremin, who was shot and killed during an armed robbery. Banks was convicted of first-degree murder by a Tulsa County jury that imposed the death penalty in that case.
But the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new trial in 1994, saying prosecutors failed to disclose evidence to the defense that the jury could have used to find Banks innocent. The court also said Banks received ineffective counsel. Rather than face the possibility of being sentenced to death again, Banks pleaded guilty to the murder charge in exchange for a sentence of life in prison.
In July, Banks waived his right to ask the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board to commute his death sentence to life in prison, according to his defense attorney, Thomas Hird of the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Oklahoma City.
Banks’ execution by lethal injection will be the fourth in Oklahoma this year.
Steven Ray Thacker, 42, was executed on March 12 for the 1999 death of a woman whose credit cards he used to buy Christmas presents for his family. James Lewis DeRosa, 36, was executed on June 18 for the October 2000 stabbing deaths of a couple on whose ranch he had worked. And Brian Darrell Davis, 39, was executed on June 25 for raping and killing his girlfriend’s mother in 2001. Besides Banks’, no other executions have been scheduled.
The state uses a three-drug lethal injection protocol. Pentobarbital is the first drug administered and renders a condemned inmate unconscious. It’s followed by vecuronium bromide, which stops the inmate’s breathing, then potassium chloride to stop the heart.
A spokesman for the Department of Corrections, Jerry Massie, said Banks has asked that his daughter and a spiritual adviser as well as his attorney and defense investigators be present to witness his execution, scheduled for 6 p.m.