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Family, supporters of Bigler Stouffer ask Stitt to grant clemency as board recommended

Bigler Stouffer, shown here in a prison photo taken in 2018, is scheduled to die Dec. 9.
Oklahoma Department of Corrections
Bigler Stouffer, shown here in a prison photo taken in 2018, is scheduled to die Dec. 9.

Family and supporters of death row inmate Bigler Stouffer delivered a petition with 10,000 signatures to Gov. Kevin Stitt, asking him to grant clemency.

Despite saying they were convinced of Stouffer's guilt in the 1985 murder of grade school teacher Linda Reaves, the state pardon and parole board recommended clemency for him two weeks ago because of concerns with Oklahoma’s lethal injection procedure. Most board members say those concerns have since been addressed because a paid state witness testified an October execution where the inmate, John Marion Grant, died vomiting and convulsing was “smooth.”

That testimony came in a hearing on Stouffer's request for his execution to be stayed because the state's three-drug cocktail that will be used to kill him poses a risk of unconstitutional pain and suffering.

Stouffer’s execution is Dec. 9. His spiritual adviser, Rev. Howard Potts, said Stouffer, 79, has waited to die three times before.

"They told him, 'You're going to die on this date,' and all three of them were canceled. That says to me there has to be a plan at work, some way. I'm calling it God's plan," Potts said at a news conference at the state capitol Wednesday before supporters took the clemency petition to Stitt's office.

Potts will be allowed in the chamber with Stouffer during the execution.

Stouffer and his family and friends maintain he is innocent, saying physical evidence doesn’t support the state’s case he murdered Reaves.

Democratic candidate for governor Connie Johnson, a death penalty abolitionist, was among Stouffer’s supporters at the capitol and directed a message to Stitt.

"Help bring an end to this addiction to vengeance in Oklahoma, or the numbness to vengeance that's going on right now. We have potentially 30 more people lined up in the queue to be executed in our names, and we have an opportunity ... to stop what's going on with regard to the murder of people in order to show that murder is wrong," Johnson said.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.