A man convicted of one of Oklahoma City's deadliest mass killings is being taken off death row after an appeals court ruled him mentally incompetent.

Roderick Smith was sentenced to death in November of 1994 for killing his wife and four stepchildren. He spent the two and a half decades since appealing that sentence.

“It involves the homicide of four defenseless children,” Former District Attorney Bob Macy said in 1993. “I think in view of that, the death penalty is the only appropriate punishment.”


Smith told investigators a fight had broken out between he and his wife after he was laid off as an elementary school janitor.

Smith admitted to stabbing his wife with a knife and when her two sons came to their mother's defense, he said he stabbed them too.

Investigators later learned he had also suffocated his two stepdaughters.

“He ain’t have no mercy, no pity, nothing,” the children’s father Glen Carter told News 9 in 1993.  “Just killed them, leave them in the house, locked door airtight, bodies just decaying. You can’t recognize them.”

Smith was retried after a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court decision forbid states from executing mentally incompetent inmates.

Jurors said he was not mentally incompetent, letting the five death sentences stand. 

In another 2010 retrial, jurors said he should be put to death for suffocating his two stepdaughters but reduced the stabbing deaths to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

An appeal of that trail found him to be incompetent.  A higher court refused to reconsider that ruling, ordering him to be resentenced and removed from death row.

Now, Attorney General Mike Hunter's office said they will once again ask the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review the decision before asking the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in.