McALESTER, Oklahoma. — Oklahoma executed a man Thursday for a 1997 murder, despite a recommendation from the state’s Pardon and Parole Board to spare his life.
James Coddington, 50, was given a lethal injection at Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester and was pronounced dead at 10:16 am. Gov. Kevin Stitt refused to commute Coddington’s sentence to life imprisonment without parole and rejected his request for a pardon. Coddington was the fifth Oklahoma inmate to be executed since the state resumed executions last year.
“To all my family and friends, lawyers, everyone who has been around and loved me, thank you,” Coddington said as he was strapped to a stretcher in the death room. “Gov. Stitt, I don’t blame you and I forgive you.”
After speaking his last words, Coddington lifted his head and gave his lawyer, Emma Rolls, a thumbs up, who wept softly in the witness room.
After the first drug, midazolam, was administered, Coddington began to breathe heavily and his chest exploded several times. A doctor of the execution team pronounced him unconscious at 10:08 a.m. and Coddington could be heard snoring in the room.
Coddington was sentenced to death for beating 73-year-old Albert Hale to death with a hammer. Prosecutors say Coddington, then 24, became furious when Hale refused to give him money to buy cocaine.
At a leniency hearing this month before the state’s five-member Pardon and Parole Board, an emotional Coddington apologized to Hale’s family, saying he was a different man today.
But Mitch Hale, Albert Hale’s son who witnessed the execution, said he didn’t believe Coddington was genuinely sorry, noting that he never mentioned his father or the Hale family during his dying words.
“He proved today that it wasn’t real. He never apologized,” Hale said. “He didn’t mention my father.”
Hale added, “I forgive him, but that doesn’t absolve him of the consequences of his actions.”
Rolls, Coddington’s attorney, said at the leniency hearing that Coddington was tarnished by years of alcohol and drug abuse that began as a baby when his father put beer and whiskey in his baby bottles.
Coddington was sentenced to death twice for Hale’s murder, the second time in 2008 after his first verdict was overturned on appeal.
After Hale’s killing, Coddington committed at least six armed robberies of gas stations and convenience stores in Oklahoma City.
“When we consider the full circumstances of the murder, the related robberies and the extensive history of violence on the part of Mr Coddington, one thing is clear: death is the only just punishment for him,” the prosecutors wrote. in the Attorney General’s office. Pardon and Parole Board.
The state had halted the executions in September 2015 when prison officials realized they had been given the wrong deadly drug. It was later revealed that the same wrong drug had been used to execute a prisoner, and the executions in the state were suspended.
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