A man who fatally stabbed a Tulsa woman in 1995 with a butcher knife after escaping from a prison labour centre is set to be executed in Oklahoma on Thursday.
The Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester will administer a lethal injection to 51-year-old Jemaine Cannon at 10 a.m. It will be Oklahoma’s second execution of the year and it’s ninth overall since the state started using lethal injections again in 2021.
Cannon was found guilty of the murder of 20-year-old mother-of-two Sharonda Clark, with whom he had been sharing a Tulsa flat following his weeks earlier breakout from a prison labour centre in southwest Oklahoma. At the time, Cannon was serving a 15-year sentence for the brutal assault of a different woman, who was left with life-long wounds after Cannon allegedly raped her and beat her mercilessly with a claw hammer, iron, and kitchen toaster, according to the prosecution.
In a last-minute plea for a stay of execution, Cannon argues, among other things, that he is Native American and is not subject to Oklahoma jurisdiction, according to court records. The petition was still pending as of late Wednesday.
Cannon stated that he killed Clark in self-defence during a clemency hearing before the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board last month.
“I am deeply disheartened that the act of defending my life and the acts that she initiated against me ever happened,” Cannon told the board via a video feed from the state penitentiary. “The ending of human life was never desired, planned or premeditated.”
The panel was also informed by Cannon’s lawyer, Mark Henricksen, that Cannon’s trial and appellate counsel were ineffective for failing to submit proof in support of his self-defense claim. After the prosecution laid out their evidence, his trial attorneys took a break without calling any witnesses or presenting any exhibits, according to Henricksen.
This week, Henricksen claimed that the state’s choice to carry out Cannon’s execution amounted to “historic barbarism” in a statement submitted to The Associated Press.
“Mr. Cannon has endured abuse and neglect for fifty years by those charged with his care,” Henricksen said. “He sits in his cell a model prisoner. He is nearly deaf, blind, and nearing death by natural causes. The decision to proceed with this particular execution is obscene.”
However, the state has been asked to put Cannon to death by the attorney general’s office’s prosecutors as well as Clark’s adult daughters.
Yeh-Sehn White, the eldest daughter of Clark, informed the Pardon and Parole Board last month that Cannon had not expressed regret for his conduct in 28 years. She encouraged the board to deny clemency, which it did on a 3-2 vote.
“Mercy was never given my mother,” she said. “Even still today he points the blame at my mother for his actions.”
The current lethal injection protocol used in Oklahoma consists of three drugs: the sedative midazolam, the paralytic vecuronium bromide, and potassium chloride, which stops the heart. Before issues in 2014 and 2015 resulted in a de facto halt, the state had one of the busiest death chambers in the country.
When prison officials realised they had the wrong fatal medicine in September 2015, Richard Glossip was only a few hours away from death. Later, it was discovered that a convict had been executed in January 2015 with the incorrect medication.
Following a botched execution in April 2014 in which inmate Clayton Lockett struggled on a stretcher before passing away 43 minutes into his lethal injection — and after the state’s prisons chief ordered executioners to stop — the drug mix-ups were carried out.