MCALESTER, Okla. (KFOR) – An Oklahoma death row inmate has been executed at a prison in McAlester.
On Thursday morning, officials say James Coddington was put to death by lethal injection.
Scott Crow, Director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, said the execution was carried out with no complications.
“Absolutely no issues,” Crow said during a news conference after the execution. “The execution went in accordance with protocol with no issues at all.”
The Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office issued the following statement after the execution:
“The State’s execution of James Coddington was carried out with zero complications at 10:16 this morning. Justice is now served for Albert Hale and the people of Oklahoma. Our office recognizes that nothing can fill the void left by the loss of a loved one, and our hearts and prayers are with the Hale family.”Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office Spokesperson
Coddington was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of 73-year-old Albert Hale.
In 1997, 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.
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.
Coddington was pronounced dead at 10:16 a.m.
Members of Hale’s family witnessed the execution.
“Obviously we would prefer not to be here today. I felt like it was important that we come just to represent my dad. I didn’t want this to go without us being here for my dad,” Mitchell Hale, Hale’s son, said during the news conference. “There’s so much emphasis put on the perpetrator and not the victim, that I just felt compelled that we be here. Trust me, I don’t want to be here.”
Mitchell Hale said he and his family do not have closure after Coddington’s execution.
“There’s no such thing as that. Today’s not a good day, not a bad day, it’s just a new day for our family.
We can finally move on,” he said. “It’s not going to heal anything, but it closes this chapter; we’re not going to be called to say, ‘Well, there’s a new hearing, there’s a new trial, there’s a new clemency.’ This is finally over, and that’s the only thing we wanted, was just for everything to stop.”
He said the years since Coddington was sentenced to death have been difficult for the family.
“Unless you’ve been in the system on the victim’s side, you don’t understand how you get kicked around like a football,” Mitchell Hale said. “No one cares about us; it’s always the criminal’s side. I didn’t take any joy in watching this, but I had to be here for my…for my dad.”
Associated Press writer Sean Murphy, one of five media witnesses to the execution, also spoke during the news conference.
Murphy said the execution began at 10:01 a.m. and confirmed that Crow pronounced Coddington dead at 10:16 a.m.
He also shared Coddington’s last words, saying Coddington thanked his family, friends, lawyers and everyone who has loved him. He said Murphy listed off several names, saying they gave him two years of complete love and happiness. Coddington said he did not blame Gov. Kevin Stitt and that he forgave him.
A member of the media asked Mitchell Hale if he believed Coddington was genuine when he previously said that he felt remorse for killing Albert Hale.
“He proved today it wasn’t genuine. [In] his final statement, he thanked his girlfriend and his attorneys, but he never apologized, he never mentioned my dad, he never mentioned my family, so there was not true remorse,” Mitchell Hale said. “He forgave Gov. Stitt, which Gov. Stitt didn’t have anything to do with this. The court system is why he’s here, and his actions. He didn’t have any real remorse. He sold it well, and his attorneys sold it well to the clemency board, but there was no remorse. He didn’t bring up my dad, he didn’t bring up [my dad’s] family. I know him. So no, there was not remorse. He proved it today.”
Mitchell Hale fought back tears as he reflected on his father, describing him as a role-model and a core member of his community.
“He was a great man, pillar of the community. There’s a hole in our little town, in the café [where] everybody came every morning. He changed that whole dynamics of that little town,” Mitchell Hale said.
Mitchell Hale remembered his father as the kind of man who was concerned about folks who struggled and had difficulty in life.
“He was just a friendly, accepting guy. He kind of had a soft spot for the downtrodden, and instilled that in us, to look out for our fellow man,” the son said. “It didn’t work out for him, doing that, but I’m not going to stop – that’s how we were raised. He was a good man.”
Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor filed a motion with the Court of Criminal Appeals in June requesting execution dates be set for 25 death row inmates. Coddington was at the top of the list.
Richard E. Glossip was second on the list.
The other four scheduled executions are as follows:
- Benjamin Cole-October 20, 2022
- Richard Fairchild-November 17, 2022
- John Hanson-December 15, 2022
- Scott Eizember-January 12, 2023