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Oklahoma executes inmate after Gov. Kevin Stitt denies clemency

Oklahoma executed 50-year-old James Coddington by lethal injection Thursday morning, a day after the state’s governor rejected pleas for clemency in the case. Photo by Oklahoma Department of Corrections
Oklahoma executed 50-year-old James Coddington by lethal injection Thursday morning, a day after the state’s governor rejected pleas for clemency in the case. Photo by Oklahoma Department of Corrections

Aug. 25 (UPI) -- Oklahoma executed 50-year-old James Coddington by lethal injection Thursday morning, a day after the Gov. Kevin Stitt rejected pleas for clemency in the case.

Coddington was pronounced dead at 10:16 a.m. CDT at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.

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Earlier this month, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recommended clemency for Coddington, who was convicted of bludgeoning a co-worker to death more than two decades ago.

The board voted 3-2 to recommend the death sentence be commuted to life without possibility of parole, sending the case to Gov. Kevin Stitt to decide whether to grant clemency.

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On Wednesday, Stitt declined to intervene, paving the way for the execution.

Coddington was sentenced to death for the 1997 murder of Albert Troy Hale, 73, in Choctaw, Okla. Prosecutors said Coddington beat Hale in the head with a hammer and robbed him after Hale refused to lend him money to buy cocaine.

Coddington was twice sentenced to death for Hale's killing, the second time in 2008 after his initial sentence was overturned on appeal.

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Hale's son Mitchel Hale had argued against clemency for Coddington.

He was the first of 25 inmates given execution dates by an Oklahoma court in July. The state plans to carry them out through the end of 2024, culminating with the Dec. 5, 2024, execution of Marlon Harmon. At the time, lawyers said the move exemplified "systemic flaws" in the state's use of the death penalty.

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The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals scheduled the executions in what it described as five "phases," with Coddington as the first.

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Former Oklahoma Department of Corrections director Justin Jones and former Republican Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives Kris Steele were among the high-profile officials that asked Stitt to spare Coddington's life. A coalition of faith leaders also voiced opposition to the state's execution schedule.

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