Journey to Justice: The death penalty in Oklahoma

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Oklahoma has been in the national spotlight all year for controversial execution procedures and mix-ups.

Some are asking if the death penalty really brings closure to victims’ families.

Will it remain the ultimate form of punishment in Oklahoma?

The Douglass family

The Douglass family

October 15, 1979 was a tragic day at the Douglass family farmhouse in Okarche.

Two drifters terrorized a mom, a dad, a son and a daughter for hours.

Back then, Brooks Douglass was just 16.

“I heard the front door open up, and I looked around and saw Steven Hatch standing inside the doorway with a double barrel shotgun," Brooks said. "When I turned back around to Ake, he was pulling a 357 magnum out of his boot and pointed it right in my face."

The intruders showed no mercy.

Hatch and Glen Ake hogtied Brooks and his parents.

They raped his 12-year-old sister, Leslie Douglass .

Then shot each member of the Douglass family.

Miraculously, Brooks and Leslie survived.

Brooks and Leslie Douglass

Brooks and Leslie Douglass

The killers were captured about a month later.

The district attorney sought the death penalty - the beginning of a long, emotional road for the Douglass kids.

“I remember nightmares of things that he said very clearly in my head,” Leslie said.

Only one of the killers was executed.

The other’s death sentence was overturned on a technicality.

Decades later, opinions on the death penalty have changed, and all executions are on hold in Oklahoma while the attorney general investigates the past two executions.

“The implementation of the death penalty in Oklahoma or anywhere else frankly, it puts too much pressure on the system," said  Former District Attorney and Attorney General Mike Turpen. "We can’t get it right. You can’t get it right legally, you can’t get it right logistically, and all that is so unfair to the victims’ families."

Oklahoma State Penitentiary

Oklahoma State Penitentiary

What do victims’ families think who have traveled their own journey to justice?

Is the death penalty still a necessary tool for justice?

Watch 'Journey to Justice' tonight at 10 p.m. as Abby Broyles talks to victims and leaders in the legal world about the past and future of the death penalty in Oklahoma.

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