MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

June 25, 2013

Execution today is second this month


Associated Press

— TULSA (AP) — An Oklahoma man is set to be executed this week for raping and murdering his girlfriend’s mother despite a recommendation by the state’s pardon and parole board to commute his death sentence after he apologized.

Brian Darrell Davis is scheduled to die by lethal injection Tuesday evening at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. The 39-year-old will be the third inmate to be executed by Oklahoma this year and the second in as many weeks.

Davis’ confession and apology at a hearing before the pardon and parole board led them to vote 4-1 for a clemency recommendation. But Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin rejected that, her second since she took office in January 2011.

Davis was convicted in 2003 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.

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 Davis had sex with the victim.

Davis’ attorney, Jack Fisher, said in a statement Monday that justice was not being done in the case.

“There is no doubt Mr. Davis stabbed Jodie Davis six times. However, he only did so after he was attacked with a butcher knife,” Fisher said. “In 37 years I have never had a case where the district attorney claimed the defendant was lying because his testimony matched the evidence.”

Death penalty opponents held a news conference at the state Capitol, pleading with the governor to commute the sentence. They argued that Davis deserved life in prison, not death, after he showed remorse. They also suggested that since Davis, who is black, was convicted by an all-white jury in Kay County that it wasn’t truly a jury of his peers and there could have been bias.

“Gov. Fallin’s refusal (to commute the death sentence) is indeed a cruel and empty mockery of fairness and justice,” said the Rev. Loyce Newton-Edwards of Oklahoma City, who rallied with more than a dozen anti-death penalty ministers and activists. “In Oklahoma, black folks are routinely convicted by white folks and nobody seems to care.

“It absolutely wasn’t a jury of his peers,” she said.

Fallin spokesman Aaron Cooper released a statement Monday, saying the governor thoroughly reviewed the arguments and evidence presented in the case and “is satisfied that justice is being served in this case.”