Letter to the Editor

    Here’s a letter I submitted this evening to the Oklahoma Gazette…

      I am saddened and outraged by the execution of Jackie Lee Willingham by the state of Oklahoma. I hate to see anyone die at the hands of the state that I love, but I am especially grieved when this injustice could have been prevented.

      In this case a critical error occured at trial.

      Given the facts of the case as presented by the defense, the jury could very well have found that Willingham was guilty of second-degree murder (“crime of passion”) instead of first-degree murder. Instead the jury was not given this option, which denied Willingham his right to a fair trial.

      Such an error could and should have been corrected earlier, but in the end the decision of whether clemency would be granted was in the hands of one man, Governor Brad Henry.

      Despite the many calls for mercy (including one from the state Pardon & Parole Board who voted 3-2 for clemency), Henry refused to intervene. Tonight another person has been killed by the state of Oklahoma.

      Despite what happened, I still have hope. I believe that we as a people are better than this and that some day our state and nation will value human life too much to permit the execution of even the most heinous of criminals.

      In the meantime though my hope and prayer is that Governor Henry would consider the words of Jesus who said, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned. Pardon, and you will be pardoned” (Luke 6:36-37).