An Oklahoma prisoner used his final moments to forgive the state’s governor for denying him clemency before he was executed by lethal injection Thursday.
James Coddington, 50, was executed at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, despite a recommendation from the state’s Pardon and Parole Board that his life be spared.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt declined to commute Coddington’s life sentence without parole and declined to grant him clemency.
Coddington — who was convicted of a 1997 murder — said he forgave Stitt in his last words while strapped to a gurney inside the execution room.
“To all my family and friends, lawyers, everyone who’s been around me and loved me, thank you,” Coddington said. “Gov. Stitt, I don’t blame you and I forgive you.”
He then lifted his head and gave a final thumbs up to his attorney Emma Rolls, who silently sobbed in the witness room.
Coddington was injected with a lethal drug and pronounced dead at 10:16 a.m. — becoming the fifth Oklahoma inmate put to death since the state resumed executions last year.
He had been convicted and sentenced to die for the murder of 73-year-old Albert Hale.
At 24-years-old, Coddington beat Hale to death with a hammer when the septuagenarian refused to give him money to feed his cocaine addiction.
After killing Hale, he committed at least six armed robberies at gas stations and convenience stores across Oklahoma City.
Coddington apologized to Hale’s family and said he was a different man today after years of sobriety in an emotional testimony at his clemency hearing this month before Oklahoma’s five-member Pardon and Parole Board.
Albert Hale’s son Mitch Hale watched as Coddington was put to death from the witness room Thursday and said he doesn’t believe he was truly remorseful.
“He proved today it wasn’t genuine. He never apologized,” Hale said. “He didn’t bring up my dad.”
Coddington did not mention his victim during his last words.
“I forgive him, but that doesn’t release him from the consequences of his actions,” Hale added.
During his clemency hearing, Coddington’s attorney said her client was doomed to a life of addiction from early childhood when his father filled his baby bottles with beer and whiskey.
Coddington’s death sentence was initially overturned on appeal, but he was sentenced to death a second time in 2008.
Prosecutors in the state attorney general’s office said Coddington’s crimes warranted his execution.
“When the full circumstances of the murder, related robberies, and extensive history of violence on Mr. Coddington’s part are considered, one thing is clear: death is the only just punishment for him,” they wrote to the Pardon and Parole Board.
Oklahoma halted executions in September 2015 after receiving the incorrect lethal drug from suppliers that didn’t match state protocols for execution proceedings. After an investigation into the switch-up, the state resumed executions last year.
With Post wires
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