‘If this is what they believe they need to do, to kill me to move on, I’m happy for them’: Oklahoma executes death-row inmate for 1996 murder

McALESTER, Okla. (KFOR) – The state of Oklahoma carried out its third execution of 2023 on Thursday. At 10:19 a.m., Anthony Sanchez was executed by lethal injection.

“At the end of the day, nobody escapes death, nobody,” said Anthony Sanchez, while talking to News 4 over the phone two days before his execution.

In 1996, Juli Busken, 21, was found dead at Lake Stanley Draper. Investigators said she’d been sexually assaulted and shot in the head.

Almost 10 years later, prosecutors said DNA evidence linked Sanchez to the crime and he was sentenced to death.

“I feel sorry for them. I do, I have daughters. And they need to know the truth. They need to know who killed their daughter,” said Sanchez. “I had nothing to do with the murder of Juli Busken.”

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On Thursday, witnesses just outside the execution chambers said Sanchez stuck to that claim to the very end.

“His last words were, quote, ‘I’m innocent. I didn’t kill nobody,’” said Sean Murphy, a witness who reports for the Associated Press.

Sanchez also had words for his former attorneys.

“He said, ‘Mark Barrett and Randy Coyne are the worst lawyers ever in the state of Oklahoma,’” said Murphy.

“’I’m sorry to whoever has them lawyers,’” reported Jamison Keefover, a witness and reporter for Fox 25.

“They were not trying to represent me,” said Sanchez.

News 4 reached out to both attorneys, but did not hear back from Mark Barrett. However, Professor Randy Coyne provided the following statement:

The embittered last words of a man convicted of the rape, anal sodomy and murder of a beautiful young woman don’t particularly concern me.  Would I prefer that Anthony Sanchez instead chose to make peace with God? Absolutely. Sadly, Anthony listened to other advisers and there is no going back. My thoughts today are with Juli Busken and her family.

Professor Randy Coyne

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Sanchez also thanked his supporters, including his spiritual advisor, Rev. Dr. Jeff Hood along with the Death Penalty Action group.

Rev. Hood stood next to Sanchez during his final moments, to pray over him and send him off with good thoughts.

Hood told News 4 he watched Sanchez tell Department of Corrections officials something was wrong with a wrist strap that was hooked up to a monitor.

“He tells them. It’s too tight. His hand was turning blue. It’s clear that his circulation was cut off,” said Rev. Hood. “The nurse had to come back out and unwrap his hand.”

“It malfunctioned. So, so we replaced it,” said Jason Sparks, Chief of Operations.

“The government shouldn’t make mistakes when it comes to executions,” said Hood.

Hood later released a formal statement saying, “Anthony Sanchez died how he lived, courageously standing upon his convictions rather than begging for mercy on his knees. May we all go and do likewise.”

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The Buskens did not attend the execution of her daughter’s convicted killer.

“The family has found closure and peace,” said State Attorney General Gentner Drummond, speaking on behalf of the family.

“I can’t even imagine how they feel when they hear the name ‘Anthony Sanchez,’” the death-row inmate told News 4. “If this is what they believe they need to do, to kill me to move on, I’m happy for them.”

Officials say Phillip Hancock is scheduled for execution November 30 for the double-murder of 37-year-old Robert Jett and 57-year-old James Lynch in 2001.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to KFOR.com Oklahoma City.