Executed Oklahoma Inmate James Coddington Thanks Family, Pardons Governor Stitt in Final Words

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The doomed man executed in Oklahoma He spent his final moments on Thursday thanking his loved ones and forgiving the governor for refusing 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 in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary at McAlester and was pronounced dead at 10:16 a.m. Thursday, despite a recommendation from the state Pardons and Parole Board that his life be spared.

Governor Kevin Stitt refused to commute Coddington’s sentence to life in prison without parole and denied his request for clemency. Coddington is the fifth Oklahoma inmate to be put to death since the state resumed executions last year.

“To all my family and friends, the lawyers, everyone who has been around and loved me, thank you,” he said, as he sat strapped to a stretcher inside the bedroom. ‘execution. “Governor Stitt, I don’t blame you and I forgive you.”

OKLAHOMA EXECUTS INMATE JAMES CODDINGTON ONE DAY AFTER GOVERNOR REFUSES TO COMMUTER SENTENCE

FILE - In this photo of a video screen, death row inmate James Coddington addresses the Oklahoma Board of Pardons and Paroles Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022, in Oklahoma City.

FILE – In this photo of a video screen, death row inmate James Coddington addresses the Oklahoma Board of Pardons and Paroles Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022, in Oklahoma City.
(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

After delivering his final words, Coddington looked up and gave a thumbs up to his attorney, Emma Rolls, who wept softly in the witness room.

After administration of the first drug, midazolam, Coddington’s breathing became labored and his chest contracted several times. A doctor on the enforcement team declared him unconscious at 10:08 a.m. and Coddington could be heard snoring inside the bedroom.

Coddington was convicted and sentenced to death for the beaten death of his friend and colleague, Albert Hale, 73, inside Hale’s Choctaw home. Prosecutors say Coddington, who was 24 at the time, became furious 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.

FILE – This Feb. 5, 2021, photo provided by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections shows James Coddington.
(Oklahoma Department of Corrections via AP, file)

At a clemency hearing this month before the state’s five-member pardons and parole board, an emotional Coddington apologized to Hale’s family and said he was a man different today.

OKLAHOMA GOVERNMENT KEVIN STITT REJECTS CLEMENCY FOR DEATH ROW INMATE

“I’m clean, I know God, I’m not… I’m not a vicious murderer,Coddington told the board, “If it ends today with my death sentence, okay.”

Establishment of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections

Establishment of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections
(Oklahoma Department of Corrections Twitter)

But Mitch Hale, Albert Hale’s son who witnessed the execution, said he didn’t believe Coddington was genuinely remorseful, noting he never mentioned his father or the Hale family during of his last words.

“He proved today that it wasn’t genuine. He never apologized,” Hale said. “He didn’t raise my father.”

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Hale added, “I forgive him, but that doesn’t release him from the consequences of his actions.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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