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Oklahoma Death Row Inmate Fighting Sentence Has Died

The state prison at McAlester
Oklahoma Department of Corrections
The state prison at McAlester

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma death row inmate who was fighting to overturn his death sentence for a 1999 killing in Oklahoma City has died.

Jimmy Dean Harris, 64, died June 29 at a hospital from long-term health problems, The Oklahoman reported.

Harris was sentenced to death for the fatal shooting of his wife’s boss at an Oklahoma City transmission shop. Harris shot and killed Merle Taylor on Sept. 1, 1999, at AAMCO Transmissions, where Harris had gone to confront his wife.

Harris was originally sentenced to death in 2001, but an appeals court threw out the sentence because of a mistake by the trial judge.

A second jury chose death in 2005, but Harris was still challenging the sentence after the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver found fault with the retrial attorney. The federal appeals court ordered the case back to Oklahoma City federal court for an evidentiary hearing and review over whether Harris’ attorney should have asked for a pretrial hearing on whether he had an intellectual disability that made him ineligible for the death penalty. That hearing had been scheduled for January.

Executions have been on hold in Oklahoma since a drug mix-up during a scheduled lethal injection in 2015.

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