Listen to this article here
Sign-Up for a free subscription to The Black Wall Street Times‘ daily newsletter, Black Editors’ Edition (BEE) – our curated news selections & opinions by us for you.
A former U.S. Marine dressed in a grim reaper costume will deliver a “Happy Death Day” cake to Gov. Stitt on Wednesday in protest of Thursday’s planned execution of death row prisoner Richard Fairchild.
Fairchild, a former Marine himself, has been on Oklahoma’s death row since 1993 for the killing of his girlfriend’s three-year-old son, Adam Broomhall. Despite his attorneys’ arguments that claims of mental illness and possible brain damage were never brought up at his original trial, the state’s Pardon and Parole Board rejected a recommendation for clemency in October, KOCO News reported.
Unless Gov. Stitt intervenes, Fairchild will become the third person executed out of 25 scheduled executions over the next couple of years.
Gov. Stitt did not respond to a request for comment.
After having handily defeated his Democratic opponent in November’s gubernatorial elections, the governor may likely see it as a sign that he’s been given a mandate to continue ahead with what protestors have labeled a “death machine.”
Grim Reaper to deliver cake, petition in protest
On Wednesday, along with the grim reaper, protestors will deliver a petition calling for the state to halt Fairchild’s execution and to look into his mental illness claims. So far the petition has garnered over 3,500 signatures.
“Mr. Fairchild’s appellate attorney informed the state court that counsel did not have the resources or time to conduct a thorough review into trial counsel’s failings,” the petition states. “Despite these limitations, Mr. Fairchild’s inadequate legal process proceeded and procedurally prevented relevant claims from being heard by subsequent courts.”
Under Gov. Stitt’s leadership, six men have been put to death since the state lifted a nearly 7-year moratorium on the macabre practice. Two of the executed men were Black, and four were white.
The moratorium, put in place by Oklahoma’s previous governor, Republican Mary Fallin, came after a string of high-profile botched executions that caused cruel and unusual punishment.
Even after claiming to have fixed procedural issues, once the moratorium was lifted, Oklahoma went on to botch the execution of John Grant, then lied about it, despite journalists witnessing the event with their own eyes.
The scheduled execution of Fairchild represents the third in a list of 25 executions that the outgoing, appointed, under-qualified Attorney General John O’Connor has scheduled with approval from the courts. The latest stunt involving the grim reaper is a sign that protesters are getting increasingly creative in their visible opposition to the death penalty.
“Clemency is dead in Oklahoma,” said Sue Hosch, Oklahoma coordinator for Death Penalty Action, a national organization that has been providing organizing support for local death penalty abolitionists for several years. “If a man who served his country as a US Marine with documented severe mental illness is not worthy of mercy, then no one is. Mark my words. This system will be changed.”