OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – An Oklahoma death row inmate who was convicted of killing an OU student in 1996 has had his latest appeal denied.

In 1996, prosecutors said OU student Juli Busken, vanished after dropping her friend off at the airport.

Hours later, she was found dead at Lake Stanley Draper. Prosecutors said the 21-year-old had been abducted, sexually assaulted, and shot.

“She was tied up and she was shot execution style,” said Rev. Dr. Jeff Hood, spiritual advisor for the suspect, Anthony Sanchez.

Juli Busken
Juli Busken

The killer was on the loose until 2004, when an OSBI agent allegedly connected Anthony Sanchez in the DNA Index System Database with Busken’s homicide.

Hood said investigators claimed Sanchez was robbing cars to pay for Christmas presents, when he saw the 21-year-old and jumped at the opportunity.

It’s a claim that Sanchez and his team have always denied.

Sanchez’s team claimed that detectives found 40 fingerprints at the scene, but none of them matched Sanchez. They also said the sketch of the suspect didn’t match Sanchez at all.

Instead, they put forth an alternative suspect- Glenn Sanchez, Anthony’s father.

“Anthony’s stepmother revealed to me that before Glenn committed suicide, on multiple instances he had confessed to killing Juli Busken,” said Hood. “He would say, you know, ‘I should have done a better job of hiding that body.’”

Sanchez’s team filed an application for post-conviction relief.

On Thursday, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals denied that application. Instead, it affirmed the original jury’s judgment and sentence.

“Counsel further asserts that ‘[a]side from the DNA’- a very considerable aside, indeed, as we shall see- the evidence did not ‘fit’ Anthony Sanchez. He argues the various eyewitness descriptions of the suspect, the lack of Anthony Sanchez’s fingerprints inside Juli Busken’s car after the murder, and the absence of incriminating statements by Anthony Sanchez are evidentiary ‘anomalies’ indicating his innocence. Counsel argues that Glen Sanchez’s alleged confessions are clear and convincing evidence of Anthony Sanchez’s innocence, requiring reversal of his murder conviction or the death sentence, or at minimum, additional discovery, and an evidentiary hearing.

We respectfully disagree. This Court previously determined that ‘[t]he evidence presented at trial tends to show that [Anthony Sanchez] forced Ms. Busken into her own car around 5:30 a.m., sexually assaulted her in an unknown location, and murdered her on the shoreline of Lake Stanley Draper around 7:00 a.m. on December 20, 1996.”

“I thank the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals for their rejection of Anthony Sanchez’s appeal,” Attorney General Gentner Drummond said. “Not only has Sanchez refused to admit his guilt, he even tried to accuse his father of committing the murder — a desperate and cowardly accusation that DNA testing has proven to be false. The Court’s ruling brings us closer to finally seeing that justice is served for Juli Busken. My thoughts are with Juli’s family and friends as the execution date approaches.”

The court says that evidence showed that DNA found on Busken’s body was overwhelmingly connected to Sanchez. It also cited evidence that a call made from Busken’s cell phone went to Sanchez’s former girlfriend after the murder.

As for the ‘confession’ by Sanchez’s father, the court determined that it is hearsay, seeing as Glen Sanchez didn’t leave a confessional before committing suicide.

Sanchez’s execution is scheduled for Sept. 21, 2023.