Oklahoma Coalition requests clemency for James Coddington

by Ezekiel J. Walker
Oklahoma Coalition requests clemency for James Coddington
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The Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty held a news conference Tuesday seeking clemency for death row inmate James Coddington.

According to The Oklahoman, they called on the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board to show mercy to the death row inmate at his clemency hearing next week.

“Justice is not killing an inmate for the victim’s family,” said the Rev. Don Heath, the chair of the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. “That is vengeance.”

According to KOCO News 5, the group focused on making a case for the life of death row inmate James Coddington. He was sentenced to death for the 1997 murder of 73-year-old Albert Troy Hale at the victim’s home in Oklahoma County.

Prosecutors say Coddington beat Hale in the head with a hammer and robbed him after Hale refused to loan Coddington money to buy cocaine. Coddington then took $525, left and robbed five convenience stores. He confessed after he was arrested by police outside his south Oklahoma City apartment, according to The Oklahoman.

Earlier this summer, the state set execution dates for Coddington and several other Oklahoma death row inmates. Coddington is the first on the schedule to be put to death, with his execution being scheduled for Aug. 25.

Coddington’s clemency hearing with the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board is scheduled for July 26. His attorneys have asked to commute his death sentence to life without the possibility of parole.

The Pardon and Parole Board will meet next Tuesday to consider the clemency request. Gov. Kevin Stitt will have the final say, if he gets a recommendation to commute the death sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The governor cannot intervene if the parole board rejects Coddington’s clemency request.

Family of the victim remains supportive of death penalty.

Coddington’s attorney says he grew up with alcoholic and drug-addicted parents, an environment which led him down the wrong path. Yet and still, the victim’s family wants the execution to be carried out. In a letter to the parole board, the victim’s son, Mitch Hale, called Coddington evil.

“I’d like to say that time has healed us,” the son wrote. “However, it has not.”

In another letter, the victim’s daughter, Patricia A. Carey, wrote her dad did not deserve to die “because of James’ misfortunes.”

“There really is no such thing as closure. However, I pray that the decision you make today will help our family to finally put this horrible story to an end.”

Botched executions led then-Governor Mary Fallin to put a moratorium on executions in Oklahoma which has since been lifted by current Governor Kevin Stitt.  

Attorney General O’Connor wrote “For the sake of the victims’ families, many of whom have waited for decades — as many executions as possible are set four weeks apart.”

Oklahoma is scheduled to carry out one execution every four weeks beginning on Aug 25 with James Coddington.

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