Execution Stayed Because Jurors May Have Been Misinformed about Life Sentence
Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry granted a 30-day stay of execution for Kevin Young who was scheduled to die on July 22. The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recommended clemency for Young a week earlier after hearing tape recorded statements from jurors stating that they hadn't wanted to give Young the death sentence but didn't receive clarification when they asked whether he would be eligible for parole if he was sentenced to life without parole. One juror explained, "We felt that the crime did not warrant the death penalty. We did not want this man on the street ever. Period. When we asked for clarification, we were told that we had all the information that we needed to make a decision. We're not lawyers, and all we knew is what we saw on TV."
While the jurors wanted to sentence Young to life without parole so he would not be let out of prison, the lack of information left them believing they had no choice but the death sentence. The same juror said he has frequently looked back on the decision and wished they had come to a different conclusion. When the opportunity arose to make a statement to the Pardon and Parole Board, he felt he had to speak out. "When the opportunity came up to try to right the wrong I took [it]," he said. The Board has only recommended clemency 4 times in the last 5 years and Governor Henry has only granted clemency once since taking office in 2003. He granted the stay because, "This is a life and death matter, and a deliberative review process cannot be completed by the scheduled execution date." He added, "I take all clemency recommendations very seriously and I will do my best to render a fair and just decision." The new tentative execution date for Young has been set for August 21.