MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

June 13, 2013

Gov. rejects clemency for murderer

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Gov. Mary Fallin rejected Thursday the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board’s recommendation that she commute the death sentence of Brian Darrell Davis, who is scheduled to be executed this month for the rape and murder of his girlfriend’s mother almost 12 years ago.

Fallin’s executive order comes just one week after the board voted 4-1 to recommend that Davis’ death sentence be commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The order states that Davis is to be executed as scheduled June 25 by lethal injection at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.

Davis, 39, was convicted by a Kay County jury of first-degree murder and first-degree rape in the November 2001 death of his girlfriend’s mother, 52-year-old Josephine Sanford. Davis was sentenced to death on the murder conviction and 100 years in prison for rape.

Davis’ defense attorney, Jack Fisher, of Edmond, said he was not surprised by the governor’s decision.

“It was expected,” Fisher said. Fallin has now reviewed two clemency recommendations for death row inmates since she took office in January 2011 and has rejected both. The first recommendation was for Garry Thomas Allen, 56, who was executed in November for the 1986 killing of his fiancé outside an Oklahoma City day care.

Fisher said members of Davis’ family expressed disappointment when they learned about the governor’s decision. Davis’ mother, father and sister spoke on his behalf at his clemency hearing and urged the board to give him a second chance.

The board recommended clemency after Davis took responsibility for the victim’s death and apologized.

Fisher said he is reviewing the case for possible new legal challenges, but he declined to elaborate.

Attorney General Scott Pruitt, whose office urged the board to deny clemency, said in a statement he appreciated Fallin’s action.

“Given the brutality of this crime, he does not deserve clemency and now must face the punishment determined by judge and jury,” Pruitt said.

The victim’s daughter, Stacey Sanford, discovered her mother dead in the Ponca City apartment she shared with Davis. Prosecutors said Josephine Sanford had six stab wounds, a broken jaw and marks around her neck. DNA evidence showed he had also had sex with the victim.

Prosecutors alleged the victim was raped, but Davis maintained at his clemency hearing that the sex was consensual.

A fellow death row inmate, James Lewis DeRosa, 36, is scheduled to be executed Tuesday for the slayings of an elderly Le Flore County couple almost 13 years ago. The board rejected DeRosa’s plea for clemency May 17.

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