US appeals court affirms Oklahoma inmate’s death sentence

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – A federal appeals court has affirmed the death sentence of an Oklahoma man convicted of beating his girlfriend with a hammer, then then setting a fire that killed her and her infant daughter.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal handed down the decision Tuesday to 34-year-old Raymond Johnson, who was convicted by a Tulsa County jury of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree arson.

Johnson was accused of the June 2007 deaths of 24-year-old Brooke Whitaker and her 7-month-old daughter, Kya. Their bodies were discovered in their charred east Tulsa home.

Investigators say Johnson struck Brooke Whitaker five or six times with a hammer before dousing her with gasoline and setting her on fire.

Among other things, Johnson claimed his attorneys have been ineffective.

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