OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – In a matter of days, the state is set to execute another death-row inmate. However, now attorneys for the inmate and his spiritual advisor are filing a lawsuit against the Department of Corrections, for allegedly trampling on their religious liberties, after the pastor was told he wouldn’t be allowed inside the execution chambers.
In October 2003, prosecutors said Scott Eizember left the Tulsa County Jail and went to his ex-girlfriend’s home in Depew, to confront her about a protective order and money.
While waiting for her, Eizember allegedly hid inside AJ and Patsy Cantrell’s home across the street, when they unexpectedly returned. Prosecutors said while he held the married couple of 50 years captive, Patsy, 70, tried to calm him down. Eizember shot and killed her.
Then Eizember beat AJ, 76, with the same gun. Eizember threw AJ in the tub, with Patsy’s body on top of him, where he laid before he died.
Now, attorneys for Eizember and his spiritual attorney, Dr. Rev. Jeff Hood, are suing the Department of Corrections, after Hood learned the DOC won’t let him in the execution chamber with Eizember Thursday.
“If this execution is delayed based on this situation, you can blame the department of corrections, not us,” said Reverend Dr. Jeff Hood.
“We would like for the process to proceed,” said Johnny Melton, the victims’ nephew.
“The department of corrections needs to correct itself before it wrecks itself,” said attorney Randall Coyne.
The DOC sent News 4 the following statement:
“The Oklahoma Department of Corrections (ODOC) is tasked with professionally carrying out the orders of the court in accordance with state statute, ensuring the dignity of all involved. Out of respect for the families of victims, ODOC will not allow the outbursts of activists to interfere, regardless of that activist’s declared role in this process. The spiritual advisor in this case has been arrested multiple times for such outbursts in other states, demonstrating a blatant disregard for the experiences of victims’ families and the solemnity of the process. Per policy, inmate Eizember will be afforded access to his designated spiritual advisor in the time leading up to his execution, and that advisor will witness the execution in another part of the facility via a closed-circuit feed.”
“According to the standard the department of corrections has set, Doctor Martin Luther King Junior wouldn’t be allowed in the execution chamber,” said Hood.
As an anti-death penalty activist, Hood has been arrested during peaceful protests for what he calls basic civil disobedience.
“The other day someone at the department of corrections called me a ‘woke preacher’,” said Hood.
Hood said he’s filled out all the forms and has agreed to play by the DOC’s rules. For months, he’s also been allowed to visit and talk to Eizember, along with all the other death-row inmates he’s advising.
“Department of corrections is asking us to believe that I wasn’t a security threat then but I am a security threat now,” said Hood.
Meanwhile, the family of AJ and Patsy Cantrell said they didn’t know about this until News 4 reached out. They said if it delays the execution, let the spiritual advisor in.
“I don’t think we would have any heartburn over his spiritual advisor sitting in, but that’s really not our call,” said Melton. “I see no reason to delay it because of that.”
The family also said they have been praying for Eizember “that he has repented and will accept the grace of god.
An attorney for Hood and Eizember also said they will file a motion to stop the execution unless Rev. Hood is allowed in the chambers.