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Execution halted after DA's request to transfer death row inmate blocked

Oklahoma Department of Corrections

The Tulsa County District Attorney's Office says federal authorities are refusing to transfer a prisoner who is set to be executed in Oklahoma this December.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons is denying a Tulsa County DA’s request to transfer death row inmate John Fitzgerald Hanson from federal custody over to the state. Hanson is currently serving a life sentence in federal prison for crimes he committed after his involvement in the murders of Mary Bowles and Jerald Thurman.

District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said his office received a letter from the federal bureau of prisons denying the transfer because it's "not in the public's best interest."

Kunzweiler says he can't imagine who in the federal government would be able to determine what's in the public's best interest.

"We had 12 citizens in Tulsa County who listened to the horrific evidence that involved the deaths of Miss Bowles and Mr. Thurman," Kunzweiler explained. "I think they had a pretty good idea what was in the public's best interest when they made their decision that this guy deserves the death penalty."

The Tulsa County district attorney said he's also concerned about federal government overreach.

"Somebody has put the kibosh on this," Kunzweiler said. "Basically saying, 'stop the train, we're going to hold up the Oklahoma criminal justice system' despite the fact that he's already gone through the state court system and the federal system and has gotten the full measure of due process in both of those systems."

Hanson's clemency hearing is scheduled for Nov. 9th and his execution is pending for December 17th.

Before making her way to Public Radio Tulsa, KWGS News Director Cassidy Mudd worked as an assignment editor and digital producer at a local news station. Her work has appeared on ABC, CBS, and NBC affiliates across the country.