Sep. 8—With less than two weeks before his scheduled execution, an Oklahoma death row inmate's spiritual advisor is making a more than 120-mile trek on foot to deliver a letter to Gov. Kevin Stitt asking for a temporary stay of execution.
The letter, written by Anthony Sanchez, is asking Stitt for a 60-day stay of execution to allow time for Sanchez's new legal team time to process new evidence.
"This walk is about the innocence of Anthony Sanchez; it's about a 60-day reprieve," said Rev. Dr. Jeff Hood, Sanchez's spiritual advisor. "But it is most of all about that great understanding that we are all human beings. Every step that I take is a prayer that the people of Oklahoma will wake up to such a fact. Will wake up to the humanity of Anthony Sanchez and will realize that in every circumstance, killing is wrong."
Sanchez, 45, is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection Sept. 21 at OSP in McAlester for the 1996 death of 21-year-old Jewel Jean "Juli" Busken. Sanchez was convicted by a Cleveland County jury during a trial in 2006 after his DNA was found on a leotard belonging to Busken.
Supporters of Sanchez argue there are issues with the DNA evidence that helped convict Sanchez, along with several other issues, including fingerprints and a police sketch not matching Sanchez.
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals denied in April a motion for a new hearing in the case. Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond denied a request made by Rep. Justin Humphrey, R- Lane, to retest the DNA in the case.
The request asks Stitt to issue a 60-day reprieve to allow Sanchez's new legal counsel to process new evidence and file arguments in court. New evidence includes eyewitnesses who saw Sanchez's father with Busken on the morning of her murder along with other evidence that allegedly proves Sanchez's innocence.
"We're asking Gov. Stitt to reprieve the execution date and give the investigator and the lawyers time to investigate fully and make sure we got it right," Abraham Bonowitz of Death Penalty Action said Friday. "Because what if we got it wrong?"
Friday's press conference was held in front of a billboard in Krebs paid for by the Free Anthony Sanchez campaign stating "Thou shalt not kill." The billboard is one of three in the McAlester area with the other two located on U.S. Highway 69 just south of McAlester and at the intersection of South Main Street and West Monroe Avenue.
Previous billboards in the same locations asked people to visit www.FreeAnthonySanchez.com for more information about the case.
Hood and his supporters said they expect to deliver Sanchez's letter and accumulated signatures from an online petition to Stitt's office at the Capitol in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, Sept. 13 at 4 p.m.