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In the Bible Belt, Christmas Isn’t Coming to Death Row

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When it comes to the death penalty, guilt or innocence shouldn’t really matter to Christians.  

NASHVILLE — Until August, Tennessee had not put a prisoner to death in nearly a decade. Last Thursday, it performed its third execution in four months.
This was not a surprising turn of events. In each case, recourse to the courts had been exhausted. In each case Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, declined to intervene, though there were many reasons to justify intervening. Billy Ray Irick suffered from psychotic breaks that raised profound doubts about his ability to distinguish right from wrong. Edmund Zagorksi’s behavior in prison was so exemplary that even the warden pleaded for his life. David Earl Miller also suffered from mental illness and was a survivor of child abuse so horrific that he tried to kill himself when he was 6 years old.
Questions about the humanity of Tennessee’s lethal-injection protocol were so pervasive following the execution of Mr. Irick that both Mr. Zagorski and M…

Oklahoma: Death row inmate in Tulsa bank teller's murder found dead at state penitentiary

Jeremy Williams
A death row inmate who killed a Tulsa bank teller in 2004 and who exhausted his appeals reportedly hanged himself Saturday in his jail cell.

Oklahoma State Penitentiary staff found Jeremy Williams, 35, dead in his cell from an apparent suicide, according to an Oklahoma Department of Corrections incident report. Matthew Elliott, a DOC spokesman, said Williams' death remains under investigation.

DOC security officers found Williams "hanging from the vent with a ligature tied around his neck," officers state in the report. Williams was convicted for his part in a 2004 shooting death during a botched bank robbery.

He was sentenced to death after his conviction and exhausted his appeals in January 2016 when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his final appeal. Williams was on death row for nearly 12 years before he was found dead in his cell.

In June 2004, Williams and Alvin "Tony" Jordan were the masked gunmen who robbed First Fidelity Bank, located in the 2600 block of East 21st Street, according to Tulsa World archives. Amber Rogers, 26, was a teller there at the time of the robbery. She was shot in the abdomen and killed.

During the court case, prosecutors argued Williams and Jordan caught Rogers in crossfire. The bullet passed through her body and state medical examiners could not determine the caliber of gun that fired it.

Jordan pleaded guilty and is serving a life sentence in prison. Jordan avoided the death penalty when he pleaded guilty, according to a previous story.

On Saturday, prison security officers were conducting a "count" around 11:15 p.m. when they found Williams' cell window obscured by a sheet. Staff state in the incident report that Williams "did not respond to knocking." They cracked the door to pull back the sheet from the window, revealing Williams' body.

Authorities attempted life-saving measures, but by 3:30 a.m. Sunday, state medical examiners had taken Williams' body.

Williams was on death row, but he had not yet been scheduled to be executed.

Between 1915 and 2014, state officials executed 192 men and 3 women, according to DOC records.

The last execution in Oklahoma was that of Charles Warner, who died by lethal injection in January 2015. An autopsy first reported by The Oklahoman revealed that 1 of the drugs used was not part of the Department of Corrections' lethal injection protocol.

Oklahoma authorities announced in March 2018 that they will transition to inert gas inhalation for executions. The announcement came after 3 years without an execution due to controversy over lethal injection.

Source: Tulsa World, June 14, 2018


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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