Group talks SQ 776 and whether or not death penalty should be put into Okla. state constitution

Posted at 6:48 PM, Sep 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-14 19:48:05-04

The future of Oklahoma's death penalty could be in the hands of voters. If State Question 776 is passed, it will officially put the death penalty into the state constitution.

Authors of the measure hope to affirm the state's right to perform executions and decide the method.

Wednesday, members of "Think Twice Oklahoma," a group that opposes 776, spoke about their concerns.

"This measure, if it's enacted, will become a fiscal boondoggle. It's going to become very costly and Oklahomans are going to get stuck with the tab and have little, or nothing, to show for it," said Marc Hyden with Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty.

Opponents of 776 say the death penalty is not under threat in Oklahoma and does not need the protection of the constitution.

But for some of the families of murder victims, capital punishment is the only appropriate sentence.

"It's the story of my life, the part that I didn't want to write," said Carol Sanders.

Sanders has kept every single clipping, photo and mention of her daughter since her brutal death.

"But the fact that there was somebody else there, I can't help but think that might've been easier for both of them even though it didn't change anything," she said.

It was fall of 1987 when Laura Lee Sanders was a junior at OSU and at home in Tulsa to help care for her sick father.

Two men, Scott Hain and Robert Lambert, grabbed Laura and her co-worker Michael Houghton outside a bar and threw them in the trunk of a car.

Hain and Lambert were later convicted of burning the pair alive just outside of Sapulpa.

"I just can't imagine. I can't go there in my mind, how anybody could be that evil," Sanders said.

The grieving process would not be easy -- 15 grueling years in and out of court.

Hain was sentenced to death and executed in 2003; Carol made the trip to watch.

"It was like putting that part of our lives behind us, which was a blessing," she said. "Sometimes you wish that they could've experienced what they made other people go through."

That's what makes Lambert's life sentence difficult.

His death sentence was overturned because of his mental state. But for Carol, "life" is just not enough.

"I'm sorry about that, because he doesn't deserve to be living," she said.

A Tulsa mother left with the what-if's and the memories of a daughter taken too soon.

"Don't know how I deserved her, but I did," she said.

Carol said she's always thinking where and who Laura would be today.

She believes Oklahoma deserves to forever have the death penalty so that other victims' families can find the same justice she received.