OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recommended clemency for death row inmate James Coddington on Wednesday.
The board voted 3-2 in Coddington's favor. The final decision will go to Gov. Kevin Stitt to decide whether or not he'll be executed.
Coddington is sentenced to die for the 1997 hammer killing in Choctaw of co-worker Albert Hale, who prosecutors said had refused to lend Coddington $50 to buy drugs.
Oklahoma Attorney General John O'Connor released a statement after the decision:
"I am disappointed that three members of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recommended clemency for James Coddington. Coddington bludgeoned Albert Hale, a 73-year-old United States Navy veteran, to death with a hammer on March 5, 1997, when Hale refused to give Coddington money to buy drugs. The two men worked together at a salvage yard at the time Coddington went to Mr. Hale’s home for money.
Two different Oklahoma juries found that the murder was so heinous that death was the appropriate punishment. The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board hearing is not designed to be a substitute for a trial before a jury. The juries heard evidence about Coddington’s childhood environment and brain development during the sentencing phase of the trials. The jury also concluded that Coddington was a continuing threat to society – both inside and outside of prison walls.
The Judge agreed and imposed the sentence, which was affirmed after years of thorough reviews by the appellate courts. It is a just and appropriate sentence for the brutal murder of an innocent man.
My office will continue to stand on the irrefutable facts of this case and with the family of Albert Hale and with all Oklahomans, by opposing Coddington’s request for relief from the Governor.”
Coddington is scheduled to be executed Aug. 25.
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