Executed Oklahoma inmate James Coddington thanks family, forgives Gov. Stitt in final words – Fox News
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The death row inmate executed in Oklahoma on Thursday spent his final moments thanking loved ones and forgiving the governor for rejecting to grant him clemency – but neglected to mention his victim, the man he killed in a hammer attack in 1997.
James Coddington, 50, received a lethal injection at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester and was pronounced dead at 10:16 a.m. on Thursday, despite a recommendation from the state’s Pardon and Parole Board that his life be spared.
Gov. Kevin Stitt declined to commute Coddington’s sentence to life in prison without parole and rejected his petition for clemency. Coddington was the fifth Oklahoma inmate to be put to death since the state resumed executions last year.
"To all my family and friends, lawyers, everyone who’s been around me and loved me, thank you," he said, as he sat strapped to a gurney inside the execution chamber. "Gov. Stitt, I don’t blame you and I forgive you."
FILE – In this photo from a video screen, death row inmate James Coddington speaks to the Oklahoma Board of Pardon and Parole on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022, in Oklahoma City.
(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
After delivering his last words, Coddington lifted his head and flashed a thumbs up to his attorney, Emma Rolls, who cried quietly in the witness room.
After the first drug, midazolam, was administered, Coddington’s breathing became labored and his chest hitched several times. A doctor on the execution team declared him unconscious at 10:08 a.m., and Coddington could be heard snoring inside the chamber.
Coddington was convicted and sentenced to die for the beating death of his friend and coworker, 73-year-old Albert Hale, inside Hale’s Choctaw home. Prosecutors say Coddington, who was 24 at the time, became enraged when Hale refused to give him money to buy cocaine.
FILE – This Feb. 5, 2021, photo provided by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections shows James Coddington.
(Oklahoma Department of Corrections via AP, File)
During a clemency hearing this month before the state’s five-member Pardon and Parole Board, an emotional Coddington apologized to Hale’s family and said he was a different man today.
"I’m clean, I know God, I’m not … I’m not a vicious murderer," Coddington told the board. "If this ends today with my death sentence, OK."
Oklahoma Department of Corrections facility
(Oklahoma Department of Corrections Twitter)
But Mitch Hale, Albert Hale’s son who witnessed the execution, said he didn’t believe Coddington was sincerely remorseful, noting that he never mentioned his father or the Hale family during his last words.
"He proved today it wasn’t genuine. He never apologized," Hale said. "He didn’t bring up my dad."
Hale added: "I forgive him, but that doesn’t release him from the consequences of his actions."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Stephanie Pagones is a Digital Reporter for FOX Business and Fox News. Story tips can be sent to [email protected] and on Twitter: @steph_pagones.