Abolish the Death Penalty
"'An eye for an eye' leaves the whole world blind."
As part of our mission at Raye of Hope, we are working alongside
the Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty to ensure that no more
innocent people are put to death. Some of us share the view that
only God has the authority to decide when a person's life should be
taken, and to us, a death sentence is murder. We all believe our
system is broken and a broken system should not have the authority
to decide if a person should live or die.
Pleas for mercy -
Don Gilson -
Clemency Granted 4-14-09 by the pardon and
parole board - he was put to death by Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry
on May 14, 2009.
deathpenaltyinfo.org, 8 Oklahomans have been exonerated from
death row as of August, 2008. DEATH ROW! These are stories of PEOPLE
who were on death row in OKLAHOMA and were released. Please read
Charles Ray Giddens Oklahoma Conviction: 1978, Charges Dismissed:
Giddens, an 18-year-old black man, was convicted for the murder of a
grocery store cashier primarily on the testimony of Johnnie Gray,
who claimed he accompanied Giddens to the murder scene. Although
Gray was never indicted, Giddens was sentenced to death after an all
white jury deliberated for only 15 minutes. Giddens conviction and
death sentence reversed by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals,
which found Gray's testimony was unreliable and the evidence against
Giddens insufficient. (Giddens v. State, No. F-78-164 (Ct. of Crim.
App., 11/17/81)) The charges against Giddens were dropped.
Clifford Henry Bowen Oklahoma Conviction: 1981, Charges Dismissed:
Bowen was incarcerated in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary under
three death sentences for over five years when the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the Tenth Circuit finally overturned his conviction in
1986. The Court held that prosecutors in the case failed to disclose
information about another suspect, Lee Crowe, and that had the
defense known of the Crowe materials, the result of the trial would
probably have been different. Crowe resembled Bowen, had greater
motive, no alibi, and habitually carried the same gun and unusual
ammunition as the murder weapon. Bowen, on the other hand,
maintained his innocence, provided twelve alibi witnesses to confirm
that he was 300 miles from the crime scene just one hour prior to
the crime, and could not be linked by any physical evidence to the
crime. (Bowen v. Maynard, 799 F.2d 593 (10th Cir. 1986) and Oklahoma
Publishing Co., 7/31/87).
Read "Cowboy Bob..." by Ken Armstrong in The Chicago Tribune
Richard Neal Jones Oklahoma Convicted 1983 Acquitted 1988
Jones was sentenced to death in Oklahoma in 1983. Jones maintains
that he was passed out while his three co-defendants murdered
Charles Keene. On appeal, the Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma
remanded the case for retrial. The Court held the jury was
prejudiced by the improper admission of hearsay testimony and
inflammatory photographs. The Court also agreed with Jones'
assertion that the case should be remanded on the basis of
prosecutorial misconduct. Moreover, the Court held, the case was not
one in which Jones' guilt was "overwhelming" and that Jones'
involvement was disputed by the evidence. (Jones v. State, 738 P.2d
525 (Okla. crim. app. 1987) and Oklahoma Publishing Co., 1/18/88).
Gregory R. Wilhoit Oklahoma Conviction: 1987, Acquitted: 1993
Convicted of killing his estranged wife while she slept. His
conviction was overturned and he was released in 1991 when 11
forensic experts testified that a bite mark found on his dead wife
did not belong to him. The appeals court also found ineffective
assistance of counsel. He was acquitted at a retrial in April, 1993.
(Wilhoit v. State, 816 P.2d 545 (Okla. Crim. App. 1991) and The
Daily Oklahoman, 4/1/93).
Read "My Nightmare: An Interview with Greg Wilhoit" by Ira Saletan
Robert Lee Miller, Jr. Oklahoma Conviction: 1988, Charges Dismissed:
Miller was convicted of the rape and murder of two elderly women in
1988. In 1995, Miller's original conviction was overturned and he
was granted a new trial when DNA evidence pointed to another suspect
who was already incarcerated on similar charges. In February, 1997,
Oklahoma County Special Judge Larry Jones dismissed the charges
against Miller, saying that there was not enough evidence to justify
his continued imprisonment. One month later, Oklahoma County
District Judge Karl Gray reinstated the charges in response to an
appeal by the District Attorney's office; however, the prosecution
ultimately decided to drop all charges and Miller was released.
(Barry Scheck, et al., Actual Innocence (Doubleday 2000) and The
Daily Oklahoman, 3/1/97).
Read "When the Evidence Lies" by Belinda Luscombe in Time Magazine
Ronald Keith Williamson Oklahoma Conviction: 1988, Charges
Ronald Williamson and Dennis Fritz were charged with the murder and
rape of Deborah Sue Carter, which occurred in Ada, Oklahoma in 1982.
They were arrested four years after the crime. Both were convicted
and Williamson received the death penalty. In 1997, a federal
appeals court overturned Williamson's conviction on the basis of
ineffectiveness of counsel (Williamson v. Ward, 110 F.3d 1508 (10th
Cir. 1997) aff'g 904 F. Supp. 1529 (E. D. OK 1995)). The Court noted
that the lawyer had failed to investigate and present to the jury
the fact that another man had confessed to the crime. The lawyer had
been paid a total of $3,200 for the defense. Recently, DNA tests
from the crime scene did not match either Williamson or Fritz, but
did implicate Glen Gore, a former suspect in the case. All charges
against the two defendants were dismissed on April 15, 1999 and they
were released. Williamson suffers from bipolar depression and has
been hospitalized for treatment. (Daily Oklahoman, 3/18/99 and New
York Times 4/16/99).
Read "Life After Death Row" by Sara Rimer in The New York Times
See Frontline: Burden of Innocence by PBS ---- Williamson is
Curtis Edward McCarty Oklahoma Conviction: 1986, Charges Dismissed:
McCarty, who had been sentenced to die three times and has spent 21
years on death row for a crime he did not commit, has been released
after District Court Judge Twyla Mason Gray ordered that the charges
against him be dismissed. Gray ruled that the case against McCarty
was tainted by the questionable testimony of former police chemist
Joyce Gilchrist, who gave improper expert testimony about semen and
hair evidence during McCarty's trial. Oklahoma County District
Attorney David Prater said his office will not appeal Gray's
decision. According to the New York-based Innocence Project, an
organization that assisted McCarty in his efforts to prove his
innocence, during McCarty’s first two trials, Gilchrist falsely
testified that hairs and other biological evidence showed that
McCarty could have been the killer. In both trials, the juries
convicted him and he was sentenced to death. In Gilchrist’s original
notes, hairs from the crime scene did not match McCarty. She then
changed her notes to say the hairs did match him. When the defense
requested retesting, the hairs were lost. A judge has said Gilchrist
either destroyed or willfully lost the hairs. DNA testing in recent
years has also shown that another person raped the victim. McCarty's
has maintained his innocence since his arrest.
(The Oklahoman, May 11, 2007 and The Innocence Project)