Execution Dates Requested for Short, Young
Attorney General Drew Edmondson asked the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (OCCA) to set execution dates for two Oklahoma County death row inmates after the United States Supreme Court (USSC) today ruled lethal injection is a constitutional method of execution.
In Baze v. Rees, the USSC denied the appeal of a Kentucky death row inmate who claimed the state’s execution process violated the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
“The issue before the Supreme Court involved the standard to define cruel and unusual,” Edmondson said. “The Kentucky defendant asked the court to set the standard at unnecessary risk of pain. Oklahoma’s standard prohibits the wanton infliction of pain.”
After reviewing the issues in the Baze case and relevant Oklahoma law, Edmondson asked the OCCA last October to delay scheduling executions in Oklahoma until the USSC issued its ruling in Baze.
“Now that the Supreme Court has ruled, it is time Oklahoma moves forward in completing the cases of Terry Lyn Short and Kevin Young,” Edmondson said. “The Supreme Court’s ruling affirms the constitutionality of Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol.”
Short was sentenced to death for the January 1995 murder of 22-year-old Ken Yamamoto in Oklahoma City. Young was sentenced to death for the May 1996 murder of 56-year-old Joseph Sutton in Oklahoma City.
“It is the practice of this office, before an execution date is requested, to examine each case to determine if the testing of DNA evidence should occur,” said Edmondson. “We have determined, after a thorough review of these cases, that DNA testing would be of no value and would have no relevance as to actual innocence. I see nothing that should stand in the way of these executions being carried out.”
The state asked the Oklahoma court to set the execution date for 60 days from today or the earliest date the court deems fit.
Edmondson also asked any family members or friends of Yamamoto or Sutton to contact his office.
“After the court sets an execution date, the inmates can request a clemency hearing before the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board,” Edmondson said. “This is the opportunity for family and friends of those killed to address the board. This is their chance to tell the board about who their loved ones were and about the impact these murders had on their lives.”
The attorney general said his office attempts to notify victims’ family members any time he requests an execution date. Under Oklahoma law, certain victim family members are permitted to witness executions, if they so desire.
Family members are asked to contact Allyson Carson at (405) 522-4397.