OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – We are hearing from a death row inmate convicted of murder who says he does not want a clemency hearing, even though he says he did not commit the crime.
The victim, 21-year-old Juli Busken, was found dead in 1996 at Lake Stanley Draper.
Prosecutors say she had been abducted, sexually assaulted and shot.
Eight years later, in 2004, an OSBI agent allegedly connected Anthony Sanchez to Busken’s homicide via DNA evidence.
He – and his supporters – have maintained that he is innocent for the 20 years he’s been on death row.
In a pre-recorded message released Friday, convicted killer Anthony Sanchez says he does not want a clemency hearing.
“I am not the State of Oklahoma’s punching bag,” Sanchez said. “I have chosen to pursue my innocence through fairer means.”
Sanchez claims that he doesn’t want to participate in the clemency process because he has no faith in the Pardon and Parole Board.
“Why would I participate in such a process?” Sanchez said. “Even though I’m demonstrably innocent, the board is never going to listen to me. In fact, I believe it’s incapable.”
Representatives for Sanchez, including Abraham Bonwitz with Death Penalty Action, are also expressing distrust with the clemency hearing process.
“The word ‘clemency’ means mercy,” Bonowitz said. “Under the current administration here in Oklahoma, the idea of a fair hearing whose outcome is not predetermined is a cruel hoax.”
In a statement, Tom Bates, Director of the Pardon and Parole Board tells News 4:
The members and staff of the Pardon and Parole Board work tirelessly to provide offenders and victims a fair, objective and transparent clemency process. These cases are extremely difficult and sobering and I know board members approach each one with solemn reverence.Tom Bates, Director of the Pardon and Parole Board
Advocates for Sanchez say he has decided to represent himself and take his own path because he believes it’s the only chance he has at sparing his own life.
“Anthony Sanchez is giving up on clemency not because he’s guilty, but because he is innocent and knows that he will not be given a fair opportunity to prove his innocence before the clemency board,” said Spiritual Advisor Dr. Rev. Jeff Hood.
“By invoking my right to not pursue clemency, I am taking my power back,” Sanchez said. “I will carry the burden of proving my innocence through venues not yet determined.”
Advocates for Sanchez have questioned evidence used in the case against him like DNA, footprints and fingerprints.
Additionally, in April, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals rejected a request for an evidentiary hearing in which advocates claimed Sanchez’s late father was the real killer.
Sanchez is scheduled to be executed September 21.