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The chairman of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board stepped down Friday at the request of Gov. Kevin Stitt because of their differences over the death penalty.
Adam Luck, 33, served on the board almost three years. He repeatedly recommended clemency for death row inmates.
The governor, a Republican, supports capital punishment.
"When I began service on this board there was a moratorium on executions in the state of Oklahoma," Luck wrote in his resignation letter.
"As we resumed executions in October I came to the conclusion that guided my votes during the five clemency hearings our board conducted. I understand these beliefs differ from yours and while I could continue my service I wish to honor your request and allow you to appoint an individual more aligned with your position."
The governor replaced Luck on the board with a retired Episcopalian bishop who promised to fulfill "my duty and responsibility impartially and in accordance with the law of Oklahoma.”
Edward Konieczny was appointed even though his name appears on a 2012 Oklahoma Conference of Churches statement opposing the death penalty.
The governor is aware of the statement, a spokesman said. Konieczny explained his name appeared on the statement automatically while he was out of town.
The board itself will vote on who will take over as chairman.
Luck was appointed by Stitt to the board in February 2019. He is CEO of City Care, a nonprofit organization working with Oklahoma City residents in extreme poverty.
At the Governor’s request I am resigning as the Chair and as a member of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board. It has been an honor to work alongside the board members and staff over the last three years. I am proud of what we accomplished and I am confident that will continue.
— Adam Luck (@AdmLuck) January 14, 2022
Prosecutors across the state regularly accused Luck of bias and asked him not to vote on their cases.
Attorney General John O'Connor in October called on the Oklahoma Supreme Court to block Luck from voting in two clemency hearings.
"He believes himself to be bound by the Bible to release people from prison," the attorney general complained. "Chairman Luck does not appear to be able to set aside his religious and political beliefs in his role as a Board member. And he has business relationships which create a conflict of interest."
The resignation comes at the same time an Oklahoma County grand jury is investigating the parole board. Grand jurors meet again Tuesday and Wednesday.
At a news conference in 2020, the governor called the death penalty "appropriate for the most heinous of crimes."
"And it is our duty as state officials to obey the laws of the state of Oklahoma by carrying out this somber task," Stitt said.
Konieczny retired as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma in January 2021 after more than 13 years in that role. He also is a former police officer, serving from 1975 to 1992 in California, according to a news release about his appointment.
"He is an inspiring leader with a servant's heart, and I am confident in his ability to make and own responsibility for critical decisions,” the governor said.
Konieczny, 67, said it was an honor to be selected.
“With nearly 20 years in law enforcement and 28 years in ministry, I believe I bring a unique, equitable, and relevant perspective," he said.
In the 2012 theological statement, state religious leaders asked state legislators to pass a bill abolishing the death penalty in Oklahoma.
"Violence begets violence, including when perpetrated for seemingly 'good reasons,'" the statement said.
This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board chairman resigns at governor's behest