OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Just days after taking office, Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond has filed a motion to delay several executions in the state.
Drummond filed a motion with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, requesting that seven impending executions be conducted with more time between each event.
“The new director of the Department of Corrections had some concerns,” said Rep. Kevin McDugle, R-Broken Arrow. “Steve Harpe had mentioned, ‘Man, this is something else to have to do this every month.”
The republican Oklahoma lawmaker said he knew this request was coming from the AG. He believes the next death-row inmate set to be executed, Richard Glossip, is innocent. For years, McDugle has gathered support to have fresh eyes re-examine the 1998 case.
“I think for Richard Glossip we’re thankful, of course, this is his sixth death row date,” said McDugle.
AG Drummond was near News 4 while witnessing Scott Eizember’s execution on January 12th. The AG said that’s when he saw how hard the understaffed DOC employees work.
“I was honored to spend time with these outstanding men and women who work every month to carry out the State’s highest punishment and deliver justice to the families of victims,” Drummond said. “I observed their respect for the solemnity of their duty. I saw their regard for the family and loved ones of victims. Oklahoma is fortunate to have dedicated public servants who are willing to train for and carry out a task of such gravity.”
Oklahoma has had four executions over nearly five months and 21 others are pending.
“As is to be expected, DOC leadership and personnel have continuously sought to learn and improve during the process,” states the Jan. 17 filing. “One aspect that has become clear over time is that the current pace of executions is unsustainable in the long run, as it is unduly burdening the DOC and its personnel. This is especially true given the extensive and intensive nature of the training DOC personnel undergo to prepare for each execution.”
“They were practicing the death-row process, which costs the state anywhere from $150,000 to $190,000 to practice every Thursday,” said McDugle. “Then, when you actually put somebody through the death-row process, then you’ve got additional costs on top of that.”
“You can imagine how much pressure is put on people that have to go through that and then actually put someone to death,” said the representative.
If granted, the request would delay the executions for Richard Glossip, Jermaine Cannon, Anthony Sanchez, Phillip Hancock, James Ryder, Michael Smith, and Wade Lay.
The executions would be pushed back by 60 days.
Before filing the motion, Drummond says he visited with family members of the victims of the inmates to explain the reason for the request.
“I do not take lightly this request,” Drummond said. “These families have waited many years to see justice done, and I am grateful for their understanding in this matter.