Death Row Inmate Rejects Clemency Hearing, Citing Low Chance of Reprieve from Governor

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Sanchez believes that there is little hope that the state’s Republican governor, Kevin Stitt, would spare his life.

Death Row Inmate
Death Row Inmate ( Photo: KLBK )

Anthony Sanchez on death row scheduled for execution in September for the 1996 murder of a University of Oklahoma dance student

In a phone interview from death row, Sanchez expressed skepticism, stating that even if the five-member Pardon and Parole Board recommended clemency, it is unlikely that Governor Stitt would grant it. Sanchez cited previous cases in which inmates were denied clemency despite the board’s recommendation, reinforcing his lack of faith in the process.

Sanchez mentioned the cases of Bigler Stouffer and James Coddington, both of whom were executed after the board voted 3-2 in favor of clemency, only to have their requests rejected by Governor Stitt. Observing their futile attempts to secure clemency, Sanchez decided against participating in a similar process. Instead, he expressed a desire to prove his innocence through the courts.

Governor Stitt had previously granted clemency to a death row inmate, commuting Julius Jones’ death sentence to life in prison without parole in 2021. Jones’ case garnered significant attention from celebrities like Kim Kardashian and athletes with connections to Oklahoma. They pleaded with Governor Stitt to spare Jones’ life, but Sanchez doubts a similar outcome for his own situation.

While Sanchez maintains his innocence, he is no longer working with his court-appointed attorneys

Mark Barrett, who represents Sanchez, explained that he was appointed by a federal judge and that the judge would need to release him from his appointment if the client no longer wished to work with him.

Sanchez’s attorneys had previously requested an evidentiary hearing to present their claim that Sanchez’s late father, Thomas Glen Sanchez, was the actual perpetrator of the crime. However, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals rejected their request in April. The 1996 murder victim, Juli Busken, a 21-year-old dance student, was raped and shot in the head after being abducted from her Norman apartment complex.

The resumption of executions in Oklahoma in 2021 marked the end of a six-year moratorium due to concerns over the state’s execution methods. Prior to the moratorium, Oklahoma had one of the busiest death chambers in the country, but a series of problems, including drug mix-ups and a botched execution in 2014, raised significant concerns.

 

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