Live From Death Row

Friday, June 13th 2008, 10:46 pm
By: News 9

I didn't know what to expect when I was told by my managing editor that I would be going to McAlester to interview a death row inmate. 

I'd never been to prison before, let alone death row.  And I had a ton of questions. What would this guy be like? What circumstances landed him in this situation?  Terry Lyn Short didn't answer most of those questions because according to him, he has little recollection of the events that unfolded on January 8, 1995.

It was that night Short threw a fire bomb into his ex-girlfriend's apartment in a drug-fueled rage.  Ken Yamamoto, a 22-year old Japanese exchange student was asleep in another unit that caught fire from Short's fire bomb. He died in that blaze. Short was arrested, charged with 1st degree murder and later convicted. He has spent 11 years living in a quad on the H-Unit in the Oklahoma State Penetentiary, with 83 other death row inmates.

Short says he had a rough childhood and abused drugs most of his life, probably to dull the pain.  He admitted his role in Yamamoto's death and says he's sorry for what he did.

But Short says he should remain in prison, but not executed.

The clemency board disagreed. Last month, it rejected Short's appeal and upheld his death sentence. He is slated to die on Tuesday, June 17. 

Should a person's background and past mistakes factor into a sentence? If so should there be special consideration if those actions result in death? Is the death penalty a deterrent? It seems I had more questions than answers after my death row interview, which I'm told is the last time Short will speak to the media.

As Short was being led back to his cell with hands cuffed and feet shackled, he looked at me and said "Do me right. Tell my story right."

That's something I do every night, although I didn't expect this one would be so hard.