OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has rejected the recommendation of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board when it comes to the fate of a death row inmate.

Earlier this month, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recommended James Coddington‘s death sentence be commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Coddington is one of 25 Oklahoma inmates set to be executed in the next 29 months.

In 1997, then 73-year-old Albert Hale was beaten with a claw hammer at least five times, resulting in his death.

Coddington confessed to killing his co-worker and friend, whom he had known for about three years, according to an Independent Medical Evaluation conducted in 1998.

Albert Hale. Images provided by Oklahoma Attorney General’s office.

Coddington was then convicted in 2003 and sentenced to death for the murder of Hale.

While addressing the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board this month, Coddington apologized for his actions.

“I have never forgot Al. He was one of my friends. And he tried his best to help me. Any time I needed it. For that, he lost his life,” said Coddington.

Hale’s family told the board they believed Coddington’s sentence should be carried out.

“Not only did he truly kill a kind, gentle, elderly man, he also killed our family,” said his son, Mitch Hale. “I am here to say that I forgive James Coddington, but my forgiveness does not release him from the consequences of his actions.”

The board ultimately voted 3-2 to recommend clemency, saying they believed Coddington should serve life in prison without the possibility of parole.

image of James Coddington
In this photo from a video screen, death row inmate James Coddington, speaks to the Oklahoma Board of Pardon and Parole Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022, in Oklahoma City. An emotional Coddington apologized to the victim’s family and said he is “OK” with the death penalty, but told the board that he is a different man today. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

On Wednesday, Gov. Stitt announced that he has denied the board’s clemency recommendation for Coddington.

His execution will be carried out at 10 a.m. on Aug. 25 at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.

“While we are profoundly disheartened by this decision, we appreciate the pardons board’s careful consideration of James Coddington’s life and case. The Board’s clemency recommendation acknowledged James’s sincere remorse and meaningful transformation during his years on death row,” said Assistant Federal Public Defender Emma Rolls, one of Coddington’s attorneys.

No matter how serious the crime committed, we do not forfeit the dignity bestowed upon us by God. Governor Stitt’s denial of clemency to James Coddington is disappointing. There are other ways to administer just punishment for crimes without resorting to lethal measures that do not align with our state’s pro-life values and only serve to perpetuate the cycle of violence. Pray for an end to the death penalty. Pray that our leaders may have the wisdom and compassion to recognize the humanity in every person, regardless of their state in life. Pray for the victims of violence and their families that God brings them comfort and peace. Pray for the soul of the condemned and those who will be involved with his execution.”

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, Archbishop of Oklahoma City