Vol. 22, No. 5,514 - The American Reporter - September 7, 2016

by Bill Johnson
American Reporter Correspondent
Oklahoma City

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- The first woman executed by Oklahoma since statehood 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 appeals for clemency were denied. She was the first black woman executed in the United 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 State Penitentiary in McAlester, where Allen was put to death.

Allen was sentenced to die for the 1988 slaying of her lesbian lover, Gloria Leathers. She had met Leathers while serving a prison term for the shooting death of Detra Pettus, a friend since childhood with whom she had quarreled.

Leathers, who was serving a 15-year term from Tulsa County for forgery 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 Wednesday 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 arrests occurred. Jackson, a civil rights leader and former presidential candidate, was released from jail at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

Before his arrest, Jackson addressed a rally at a northeast Oklahoma 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 challenge is that we might choose life over death and that the state does not participate in premeditated death. ... I hope the government will declare a moratorium to save this woman's life."

Jackson's earlier visit to Oklahoma City was to urge a one-year moratorium on imposition of the death penalty.

Gov. Keating late Thursday afternoon refused to order a stay of Allen's execution. He made the announcement after conferring with Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson.

An hour earlier, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied Allen'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 Pardon and Parole Board by saying Allen could not be mentally retarded because she was a high school and junior college graduate.

Allen's attorneys pointed to her score, a 69, on an IQ test she took in the 1970s, arguing she is in the range of mental retardation. Prosecutors said Allen testified during the penalty phase of her trial that she had graduated from U.S. Grant High School and received a medical assistant certificate from Rose State College.

The truth was, Allen dropped out of high school at 16 and never finished course work in the medical assistant program.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Allen said she thought her life would have been different had she "received help" from officials when she was jailed the first time.

Jackson, when he was released from the Oklahoma County Jail, said he 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 alone. We intend to be with her all the way."

After Keating announced his decision, Jackson said he was disappointed.

"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, 1987, slaying of Ernnestine Jones, 84, in her northeast Oklahoma City home. Trice also severely beat Jones' 63-year-old mentally retarded son, Emanuel, who attempted to come to the aid of his mother.

Nine people had been scheduled to be executed this month in Oklahoma, but one man was given a 90-day stay last week after new DNA evidence was found.

Copyright 2016 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

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