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Drummond asks for more time between executions

The gurney in the the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Okla.
Sue Ogrocki
The gurney in the the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Okla.

Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond has moved to increase the time between executions in the state.

In a motion filed with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals on Wednesday, Drummond has asked the executions of Richard Glossip, Jermaine Cannon, Anthony Sanchez, Phillip Hancock, James Ryder, Michael Smith and Wade Lay each have 60 days between them. These executions are currently scheduled four weeks apart.

“As is to be expected, DOC leadership and personnel have continuously sought to learn and improve during the process,” the filing states. “One aspect that has become clear over time is that the current pace of executions is unsustainable in the long run, as it is unduly burdening the DOC and its personnel. This is especially true given the extensive and intensive nature of the training DOC personnel undergo to prepare for each execution.”

Drummond said he met with the families of the victims in each of the seven cases before filing the motion.

If granted, Drummond's order would be a breath in the country's most aggressive state execution schedule. Oklahoma currently has one execution scheduled each month, with the exception of September.

The state has also drawn national attention in the past decade for botched executions and for the near-execution of former death row prisoner Julius Jones, whose guilt in a 1999 murder case is in question.

Glossip, who is scheduled to be killed Feb. 16, has maintained his innocence in a 1997 murder for hire case that resulted in his death sentence. The state has stayed his execution twice.

Glossip's case drew a bipartisan group of 62 Oklahoma legislators — about a third of the State Legislature — to ask for former attorney general John O'Connor for an evidentiary hearing in his case.

Glossip's attorney did not comment on Drummond's motion Wednesday.

Drummond's motion is a continued break from O'Connor's prosecutorial patterns. O'Connor said he wanted as many executions as possible scheduled four weeks apart "for the sake of the victims' families" after asking the state for the schedule in June 2022.

Drummond has also taken different approaches to issues like tribal relations and public accountability of state officials than his predecessor.

Max Bryan is a news anchor and reporter for KWGS. A Tulsa native, Bryan worked at newspapers throughout Arkansas and in Norman before coming home to "the most underrated city in America." Several of Bryan's news stories have either led to or been cited in changes both in the public and private sectors.