OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Protestors showing their opposition to James Coddington’s execution said something has got to change, calling for an end to capital punishment in our state.
At 10:17 am Thursday, Coddington was executed for his murder of his friend, Albert Hale, 73, back in 1997. Coddington was convicted of killing Hale after Hale refused to give him money to buy cocaine.
“Oklahomans are not for an eye for an eye,” said Kristy Inman.
“It is absolutely the biblical response to severe crimes,” said Rep. Jim Olsen, R-Rolland.
“it is big government at it’s core,” said Demetrius Minor, with Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty.
The Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty was joined by the public to protest outside the Governor’s Mansion, showing their opposition to capital punishment.
“Nobody is being made whole by killing another human being,” said Nick Singer, a candidate for County Assessor who joined the group. “It just doesn’t make us safer. The state is now killing in our name. I just think it’s morally wrong. It doesn’t do anything good for our society, and so I think we should stop it.”
Inman also felt called to be here after she said a hymn randomly started playing in her car.
“Though we have sinned, he has mercy and pardon. Pardon for you and for me,” she said.
She said the issue is also bothering her young son.
“My son this morning said, mom, if someone shot dad for probably at least three days, I would want them to die. But I don’t know what good that would do,” said Inman.
Inman led the group in singing the hymn before they gathered in a circle to pray for Coddington after he was put to death.
“We pray in the name of another one who was executed by the state. Our teacher, Jesus,” said Pastor Lori Walke of Mayflower Congregational United Church of Christ.
“You did something awful. In spite of everything, you kept trying to be a better person,” said another pastor. “You are not the terrible thing you did. You have inherent worth and dignity like every human being.”
“The fact that we waited 25 years and now this person’s a little bit different, it makes it tough. But, that doesn’t change the facts of the case,” said Rep. JJ Humphrey R-Lane. “The guy beat an elderly man. No questions.”
Rep. Humphrey believes parts of the death-penalty system needs to change and said he is working to fix the flaws. However, this case is different.
“I think everybody agrees 100% he did it,” said Humphrey. “I wish you a speedy journey to heaven.”
“The Bible clearly gives the state the authority to use death for severe crimes, and it’s the proper thing,” said Rep. Jim Olsen R-Roland. “In order to have peace on Earth and justice, we have to have a properly functioning criminal justice system. And that includes the death penalty for severe crimes.”
While he believes the protester’s hearts are in the right place, Rep. Olsen said the state needs the death penalty.
“If you have in the back of your mind that, ‘If I [commit a crime], probably they’ll catch me and probably I’ll lose my life.’ That’s a good incentive for people not to carry out their worst thoughts,” said Olsen.
The split is not just between lawmakers and civilians, it’s also within the conservative party.
A new group called Oklahoma Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty is speaking out and calling for a moratorium on executions.
“The death penalty doesn’t align with conservative principles,” said Demetrius Minor, the national manager of CCATDP. “I find it difficult and inconsistent to be pro-life and simultaneously pro-death.”
“The fact that the death penalty does nothing to deter violent crime betrays the conservative principle of toughness on crime and the commitment to public safety,” said Brett Farley, CCATDP State Coordinator. “The decades-long appeals process repeatedly drags victim’s families through trauma and betrays the conservative value of human dignity.”
Adam Luck, a former member of the Pardon and Parole Board, who was asked to resign by Governor Kevin Stitt, issued this challenge for lawmakers.
“I challenge every legislator, local, state and federal elected official to honestly examine your beliefs,” said Luck.
The CCATDP said it’s movement is still in it’s infancy, but said they’re backed by dozens of conservative lawmakers. However, they didn’t feel comfortable giving us those lawmaker’s names just yet.