FOR FIRST TIME, OKLAHOMA EXECUTES A WOMAN
by Bill Johnson
American Reporter Correspondent
OKLAHOMA CITY -- The first woman executed by Oklahoma since stateho= od was put to death by lethal injection Thursday night, the second of eight=
people scheduled to be executed by the state this month.
Wanda Jean Allen, 41, died just hours after three last-ditch appeal= s for clemency were denied. She was the first black woman executed in the U= nited States since 1954.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was jailed here Wednesday night during = a protest at the women's prison, met with Gov. Frank Keating earlier in the= day to urge a stay of execution. He later met with Allen at the Oklahoma S= tate Penitentiary in McAlester, where Allen was put to death.
Allen was sentenced to die for the 1988 slaying of her lesbian love= r, Gloria Leathers. She had met Leathers while serving a prison term for th= e shooting death of Detra Pettus, a friend since childhood with whom she ha= d quarreled.
Leathers, who was serving a 15-year term from Tulsa County for forg= ery and 10 years for larceny of merchandise, moved in with Allen after she = was released.
Jackson, on his second trip to Oklahoma in weeks, was arrested Wedn= esday night as he and a group of protesters were accused of blocking a road= at the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center, the state women's prison here. = Allen already had been taken from the women's prison and was en route= to the state penitentiary in the southeast part of the state when the arre= sts occurred. Jackson, a civil rights leader and former presidential candid= ate, was released from jail at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.
Before his arrest, Jackson addressed a rally at a northeast Oklahom= a City church where he said he was "ready to go to jail. ... We try to use = our bodies as human sacrifices."
As he was being escorted away by police, Jackson said, "My challeng= e is that we might choose life over death and that the state does not parti= cipate in premeditated death. ... I hope the government will declare a mor= atorium to save this woman's life."
Jackson's earlier visit to Oklahoma City was to urge a one-year mor= atorium on imposition of the death penalty.
Gov. Keating late Thursday afternoon refused to order a stay of All= en's execution. He made the announcement after conferring with Oklahoma At= torney General Drew Edmondson.
An hour earlier, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied Alle= n's request for a stay. Her attorneys immediately filed a petition with the= U.S. Supreme Court, which refused to hear it.
Jackson and other protesters accused the state of misleading the Pa= rdon and Parole Board by saying Allen could not be mentally retarded becaus= e she was a high school and junior college graduate.
Allen's attorneys pointed to her score, a 69, on an IQ test she too= k in the 1970s, arguing she is in the range of mental retardation.
P= rosecutors said Allen testified during the penalty phase of her trial that = she had graduated from U.S. Grant High School and received a medical assist= ant certificate from Rose State College.
The truth was, Allen dropped out of high school at 16 and never fin= ished course work in the medical assistant program.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Allen said she thought h= er life would have been different had she "received help" from officials wh= en she was jailed the first time.
Jackson, when he was released from the Oklahoma County Jail, said h= e hoped Keating would stop the execution. If he did not, he said, he wanted= to give Allen personal support.
"She must not die in the dark," Jackson said. "She must not die alo= ne. We intend to be with her all the way."
After Keating announced his decision, Jackson said he was disappoin= ted.
"He had the power of life and death," Jackson said. "He chose death= ."
Allen was the second person to die in Oklahoma's death chamber this= week. Eddie Leroy Trice, 48, was executed Tuesday night for the Feb. 14, 1= 987, slaying of Ernnestine Jones, 84, in her northeast Oklahoma City home. = Trice also severely beat Jones' 63-year-old mentally retarded son, E= manuel, who attempted to come to the aid of his mother.
Nine people had been scheduled to be executed this month in Oklahom= a, but one man was given a 90-day stay last week after new DNA evidence was= found.