Friday, March 26, 2010

Oklahoma: Stay of Execution

From the Office of the Governor: In order to review a pending clemency recommendation, Governor Brad Henry has granted a brief stay of execution to an Oklahoma death row inmate.

Richard Tandy Smith, who was convicted of first degree murder in the 1986 shooting death of John Cederlund, originally faced an April 8 execution date, but the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board Thursday recommended that the governor commute his sentence to life in prison without parole. Under Gov. Henry’s order, the new execution date is May 4.

The governor granted the stay to give him ample time to conduct a thorough review of the board’s recommendation. As he does with all clemency cases, Gov. Henry will personally meet with both prosecution and defense attorneys and allow them to present their respective cases to him. The governor and his legal staff will also spend the coming days reviewing the clemency recommendation, the case file and any other related materials.

“Because clemency recommendations literally involve matters of life and death, I place great importance on my role in this process,” said Gov. Henry. “I will conduct a very thorough and deliberative review of the case, hear from all sides and then make a decision.”

During Gov. Henry’s term in office, the State Pardon and Parole Board has recommended clemency for six death row inmates, but he has approved only two, commuting the sentences to life in prison without parole.

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