Pardon & Parole Board Takes Stance Against Okla.'s Execution Protocols With Recent Clemency Recommendation

Thursday, November 18th 2021, 4:48 pm

Four more Oklahoma death row inmates are scheduled to be executed. At Wednesday's clemency hearing, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board took a stance against state's lethal injection protocol.

In a majority vote, board members voted to recommend clemency for Bigler Stouffer. They all said they think he's guilty. 

One even suggested that every future clemency hearing would go the same way until a federal lawsuit it finalized.

"I'm dumbfounded then that we're even dealing with any of these cases," said pardon and parole board member Larry Morris.

Morris raised concerns at Stouffer's clemency hearing. Members voted to recommend clemency even though they said he's responsible for Linda Reaves' 1985 murder.

"What the pardon and parole board did yesterday, it's certainly unusual, because it's really not about the Stouffer case or Stouffer's conviction at all. It's really about where we are historically in this moment in Oklahoma, now that we've had the sort of experiment of the John Marion Grant execution" said Maria Kolar, Oklahoma City University School of Law professor.

Board members cited concerns about execution protocols even more so after Grant became the first person executed since the 2015 moratorium. Witnesses said Grant had about two dozen body convulsions and vomited multiple times.

"Are we going to put another person on the table and have him suffer for 20 or 30 minutes?" said Morris. "Even for inmates that are not a part of that lawsuit because they would be exposed to the same drug cocktail that's going to be on trial in February."

Kelly Doyle said it's their job, as board members to include Gov. Kevin Stitt.

Prior to Julius Jones' and Stouffer's hearings, Oklahoma governors have granted clemency for four out of 13 inmates who the board recommended it for. Republican Gov. Frank Keating granted one clemency and pointed to what he called the lack of moral certainty for the reason.

"It's beyond, beyond a reasonable doubt. It's a higher standard. Moral certainty is the kind of certainty that you would want to have for the most grave decisions. For life and death decisions," said Kolar.  

Stouffer's execution is scheduled for December 9.