Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recommends clemency for another inmate, discusses issues they have with states execution protocol

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma State Pardon and Parole Board recommended clemency to another inmate Wednesday and discussed issues and questions they have with Oklahoma’s execution protocol.

The board seemingly took a stance against the three-drug cocktail that will be used in Julius Jones’ execution and has been used in others as well. The majority of the board stated they felt that Bigler Stouffer was guilty of the crimes he committed back in the mid-80’s, but question whether the state’s execution protocol is humane. The majority of the board also voted 3-2 to recommend clemency anyway.

“That process is obviously flawed,” said Larry Morris, a member of the Pardon and Parole Board.

image of inmate

“I’m not a doctor, I don’t make the law and I’m not the one that makes those decisions,” said Richard Smothermon, another member of the pardon and parole board.

It was a back and forth between the members before they voted Wednesday. The clemency hearing was for Bigler Stouffer, who has been convicted of shooting and killing two people back in 1985. Most of the discussion before their vote was about that three-drug cocktail.

“It leaves a lot of doubt in my mind as to whether or not we should continue to even be doing any of these things period,” Morris said.

The protocol’s cocktail uses the drug midazolam, which has been a point of controversy. Several legal teams of different death row inmates have asked for stays on executions due to it.

“We’ve had individuals on a table suffering for 20 and 30 minutes a piece,” Morris said. “And I don’t think that any humane society ought to be executing people in that way, until we figure out how to do it right.”

Photo goes with story
Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board building.

An appeals court lifted those stays. That paved the way for John Grant’s execution in October. Witnesses said he convulsed two dozen times and vomited. A trial is set for February to determine if the cocktail is considered legal. However, some on the board said they don’t feel it’s their job to discuss those things and in turn voted against clemency.

“I’m not sure that our personal beliefs can play that role,” Smothermon said.

Others disagreed and voted to recommend clemency anyway, despite admitting Stouffer’s guilt.

“I absolutely believe that we come in here as individuals with opinions,” said Kelly Doyle, another pardon and parole board member. “That we should express them.”

Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor released the following statement on the recommendation for clemency regarding Bigler Stouffer:

“I am disappointed with the decision of the Pardon and Parole Board recommending clemency to Bigler Jobe Stouffer. I was encouraged by the fact that the Board saw through the misrepresentations voiced by Mr. Stouffer and his representatives regarding his alleged innocence as most, if not all, Board members stated their confidence that Mr. Stouffer was guilty of the heinous crimes against Linda Reaves and Doug Ivens. The Board’s decision, however, was improperly based on whether an inmate will suffer pain during an execution. This concern is not a concern for the Pardon and Parole Board. Instead, it is a concern of the courts. The courts, in declining to grant a stay of execution for other death row inmates, have spoken. The execution of Mr. Stouffer should proceed. The decision, however, is now in the hands of the Governor. I will continue to make the safety of the citizens of Oklahoma a top priority of this office and will continue to advocate for the victims of this horrific crime as well as all victims of all violent crimes.”

JOHN O’CONNOR, OKLAHOMA ATTORNEY GENERAL

“My only regret is that my vote today will cause pain and questions,” said Adam Luck, another member of the Pardon and Parole Board.

The recommendation is now set to head to the governor’s desk for approval or denial.

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