The Norman Transcript

State/Region

March 17, 2013

Death penalty falling, but not in Oklahoma

(Continued)

OKLAHOMA CITY —

“That type of activity, that type of remorseless killing of another human being, deserves consideration of the ultimate penalty,” said Jeff Smith, the DA. His office currently has three pending death-penalty cases, probably more than at any point in his 27-year career, Smith said.

But Oklahoma is also part of the national trend downward in executions. There were 43 executions last year, according to the information center, down from a peak of 98 in 1999. Oklahoma’s peak of 18 executions came in 2001; last year the state had just six.

Maryland is on track to become the 18th state to abolish the death penalty as soon as its governor signs a bill passed by the House Friday, and the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, Richard Dieter, said more than a dozen other states are also considering doing so.

Increased awareness of wrongful convictions could be playing a role, he said, as well as the high costs of death penalty cases, which often bring seemingly endless appeals from defendants, and other factors.

“People have a little less confidence in the death penalty,” Dieter said. “It might get the wrong person. And so the safer path is to convict the person but not sentence them to death.”

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said he and other Oklahoma prosecutors were taking longer, closer looks at potentially death-eligible cases, which come in weekly in Oklahoma City.

“We look at death penalty cases harder than we ever have in the past to make sure we’re doing the right thing for the right reasons,” Prater said. “The death penalty needs to be sought in cases that are considered to be the worst of the worst.”

Lydia Polley, co-chair of the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, went even further, saying more Oklahomans oppose the penalty than might be expected.

“People don’t want to bring it up because it’s a very emotional and a very difficult issue,” she said. “My guess is that there are a lot of people that are in the closet and would say they don’t support the death penalty.”

For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State/Region
  • Town changed, even with girls’ killer behind bars

    WELEETKA — Folks once settled in this sleepy central Oklahoma town to get away from the crime and hubbub of big-city life. Many residents didn’t bolt their doors or draw their shades at night. Most here never worried about people like ...

    August 2, 2014

  • Teachers from Spain begin arriving in Oklahoma

    TULSA — Teachers recruited from Spain by a Tulsa school district have started to arrive in Oklahoma for the new academic year. The Tulsa World reports (http://bit.ly/1rS1Q2a ) four of the 11 expected educators arrived Thursday in ...

    August 2, 2014

  • Driver killed after container falls on truck named

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Police have identified the person killed after a shipping container was knocked from an Oklahoma National Guard vehicle and landed on a pickup truck....

    August 2, 2014

  • Fire chief in central Oklahoma city resigns

    EDMOND — A fire chief in a central Oklahoma city has submitted his resignation....

    August 2, 2014

  • Judge continues action in sexual assault case

    OKLAHOMA CITY — A judge has found probable cause to continue criminal proceedings against an Oklahoma man accused of sexually assaulting boys and girls in Kenya. Nineteen-year-old Matthew Lane Durham, of Edmond, is accused of sexually ...

    August 2, 2014

  • Trial postponed in Duncan baseball player death

    DUNCAN — The trial for a man charged in the fatal shooting of an Australian baseball player has been postponed until April....

    August 2, 2014

  • Oklahoma agency may have to vote again on issues

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Members of a new state agency charged with overseeing Oklahoma’s system for compensating injured workers may have to vote again on several issues because of possible violations of a law requiring certain state meetings to ...

    August 2, 2014

  • One killed when shipping container falls onto vehicle

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma City police say one person was killed when a shipping container was knocked from an Oklahoma National Guard vehicle and landed on a pickup truck....

    August 1, 2014

  • Tampering accusations surface in OKC bombing case

    SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah lawyer suing the FBI over his public records request for surveillance videos from the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing said Tuesday that one of his witnesses backed out after being visited by government officials last ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Christie set to visit state for fundraiser

    OKLAHOMA CITY — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is planning a return trip to Oklahoma after a December ice storm forced him to cancel a scheduled appearance with Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin....

    July 30, 2014