Capital punishment in Oklahoma

Capital punishment is legal in the U.S. State of Oklahoma.

Oklahoma is one of the leading states in number of performed post-Furman executions, behind only Texas and Virginia [ [ Executions in the United States, 1608-1976, By State ] ] and leading in number of executions per capita [ [ State Execution Rates ] ] .

Oklahoma was also the first state and the first jurisdiction in the world to adopt lethal injection as method of executions [ [ A Guilty Man ] ] .

Capital offenses

* First Degree Murder [ [ Crimes Punishable by the Death Penalty ] ] .
** A person commits murder in the first degree when that person unlawfully and with malice aforethought causes the death of another human being. Malice is that deliberate intention unlawfully to take away the life of a human being, which is manifested by external circumstances capable of proof.
** A person also commits the crime of murder in the first degree, regardless of malice, when that person or any other person takes the life of a human being during, or if the death of a human being results from, the commission or attempted commission of murder of another person, shooting or discharge of a firearm or crossbow with intent to kill, intentional discharge of a firearm or other deadly weapon into any dwelling or building as provided in Section 1289.17A of this title, forcible rape, robbery with a dangerous weapon, kidnapping, escape from lawful custody, first degree burglary, first degree arson, unlawful distributing or dispensing of controlled dangerous substances, or trafficking in illegal drugs.
** A person commits murder in the first degree when the death of a child results from the willful or malicious injuring, torturing, maiming or using of unreasonable force by said person or who shall willfully cause, procure or permit any of said acts to be done upon the child pursuant to Section 7115 of Title 10 of the Oklahoma Statutes. It is sufficient for the crime of murder in the first degree that the person either willfully tortured or used unreasonable force upon the child or maliciously injured or maimed the child.
** A person commits murder in the first degree when that person unlawfully and with malice aforethought solicits another person or persons to cause the death of a human being in furtherance of unlawfully manufacturing, distributing or dispensing controlled dangerous substances, as defined in the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Act, unlawfully possessing with intent to distribute or dispense controlled dangerous substances, or trafficking in illegal drugs.
** A person commits murder in the first degree when that person intentionally causes the death of a law enforcement officer or correctional officer while the officer is in the performance of official duties.


Theincluding death, life imprisonment without parole or life imprisonment.

* For a sentence of death to be imposed for first degree murder, at least one or more aggravating circumstances must be found present or the aggravating factors must outweigh the mitigating circumstances:
** The defendant was previously convicted of a felony involving the use or threat of violence to the person.
** The defendant knowingly created a great risk of death to more than one person.
** The person committed the murder for remuneration or the promise of remuneration or employed another to commit the murder for remuneration or the promise of remuneration.
** The murder was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel.
** The murder was committed for the purpose of avoiding or preventing a lawful arrest or prosecution.
** The murder was committed by a person while serving a sentence of imprisonment on conviction of a felony.
** The existence of a probability that the defendant would commit criminal acts of violence that would constitute a continuing threat to society.

Otherwise, life imprisonment without parole or life imprisonment are the only sentences allowed.

A sentence of death has an automatic appeal to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.

*They Review:
**Whether the sentence of death was imposed under the influence of passion, prejudice, or any other arbitrary factor.
**Whether the evidence supports the jury's or judge's finding of a statutory aggravating circumstance as enumerated in Section 701.12 of this title.
**In addition to its authority regarding correction of errors, the court, with regard to review of death sentences, shall be authorized to:
***Affirm the sentence of death; or
***Set the sentence aside and remand the case for resentencing by the trial court.

The sentence review shall be in addition to direct appeal, if taken, and the review and appeal shall be consolidated for consideration. The court shall render its decision on legal errors enumerated, the factual substantiation of the verdict, and the validity of the sentence.


Under current statute Governor of Oklahoma may grant a commutation of the death sentence, but must have the Recommendation of Clemency From a Board or Advisory Group. The only post-Furman pardon was granted by Gov. Brad Henry on May 13, 2004 to Osvaldo Torres [ Clemency ] ] .

Henry explainted that "it was important to remember that the actual shooter in these horrific murders was also sentenced to death and faces execution" and that he "concluded that there is a possibility a significant miscarriage of justice occurred... specifically that the violation of his Vienna Convention Rights contributed to trial counsel's ineffectiveness, that the jury did not hear significant evidence, and that the result of the trial is unreliable".

In earlier years Governor Lee Cruce commuted every death sentence imposed during his administration (1911-1915).


Lethal injection is the sole method of execution and after the resumption of executions in 1990 all were put to death by this fashion.

However, electric chair, used in pre-Furman period, is designated to be a backup method if injection be ever declared unconstitutional. If both electrocution and injection were found unconstitutional, firing squad is a backup method. [ [ Methods of Execution ] ]

List of individuals executed by the State of Oklahoma since 1976

A total of 87 individuals convicted of murder have been executed by the State of Oklahoma since 1976. All were executed by lethal injection.

Historical background

From 1841 to 1966, 132 people were executed in Oklahoma. 42 of these execution were prior to Statehood, 90 since. [ [ Regional Studies The Southwest ] ] One of them Arthur Gooch, was executed under U.S. Federal Government for kidnapping.

Hanging was used by the state until 1911. From 1915 to 1966 electric chair became the sole method of execution. [] The federal death row inmate Gooch, however, was hanged in 1936.

Only one woman was executed in Oklahoma in pre-Furman period (Dora Wright, a Black domestic servant, was hanged on July 17, 1903, before statehood).

Oklahoma performed last pre-Furman electrocution (James French, 1966).


External links

* [ Death Row] – Oklahoma Department of Corrections
* [ U.S. Executions Since 1976] – The Clark County Prosecuting Attorney

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