The Oklahoma City man currently third in line to be executed on the state’s death row has filed a federal lawsuit asking a judge to remove him from the line-up.
It’s a request Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor said may be granted.
Bigler Stouffer was convicted in the 1985 murder of Putnam City school teacher Linda Reaves and sentenced to death the same year.
In a lawsuit filed in the Western District of Oklahoma, attorneys for Stouffer argue he never received an opportunity to challenge the state’s execution protocol or select an alternative method as did other death row inmates involved in the federal lawsuit Glossip v. Chandler.
The Stouffer’s lawsuit filed on Monday argues he was not allowed to join the other inmates in the Richard Glossip case.
Stouffer’s attorney, Gregory Laird, said he’s unsure why Stouffer was not allowed to join the inmates in the Glossip case.
According to the lawsuit, Stouffer received a response stating, “Unfortunately, we will not be able to assist with your matters but wish you the best of luck.”
As part of the pending Glossip litigation challenging the state’s execution protocol, U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot instructed the plaintiffs to select an alternative execution method.
Six inmates involved in the Glossip lawsuit did not respond, causing Friot to allow their execution to be scheduled by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. The case against the execution protocols was allowed to proceed for the inmates who did respond to the method questionnaire.
Stouffer’s attorney argues since he was not allowed to join the lawsuit, he never received an opportunity to challenge the execution protocols as the inmates who responded to the questionnaire did.
Instead, Laird argued he was lumped in the inmates who did not respond despite never having the choice.
“He never had his day in court,” Laird said.
“It’s possible, and I’m sure he will seek a stay if his execution,” O’Connor said. “We will just have to see how the federal court handles that.”
O’Connor said Stouffer’s 36 years of appeals since his original 1985 conviction is a sign the justice system isn’t working properly.
“Honestly, 36 years of appeals. I think it’s more determinative upon the courts giving a thorough review, the court of criminal appeals, giving a thorough review of the evidence and the law that were the basis of the conviction, and then the appellate courts working through their calendars etc.,” O’Connor said.
“But it sure seems like 36 years, that’s certainly the longest I’ve ever heard of,” he said.
Laird said Stouffer maintains his innocence “100%,” arguing the state’s DNA evidence in the case doesn’t match the state’s theory of events.
His execution date is schedule for December 9, 2021; however, O’Connor said that may not happen.