UPDATE: Garry Allen has been executed.
While most Americans were watching the election results, Oklahoma carried out the state’s fifth execution of the year with the lethal injection of 56-year-old Garry Allen at Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. Allen was sentenced to death for the November 1986 killing of his fiancée, Lawanna Gail Titsworth.
According to The Oklahoman, Allen showed up at the daycare where he and Titsworth’s two sons were and argued with her. He shot her in the chest, left, then returned and shot her three more times in the back. When Allen was discovered by police later, a struggle ensued and Allen was shot in the eye.
Allen’s attorneys argued that he was mentally incompetent for execution and that he was insane when he entered a guilty plea in the original trial, however a federal district court judge rejected Allen’s appeal in September. His attorneys appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but that appeal was denied.
Allen had two previous execution dates already, one on May 19, 2005 and one earlier this year on Feb. 16.
Members of the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty held a rally yesterday at the state Capitol where they called on Gov. Mary Fallin to halt the execution. However, the governor did not intervene. The governor also denied a recommendation from the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board to commute Allen’s sentence to life without parole. The board made the recommendation in April 2005, but earlier this year Fallin denied it.
According to the Washington Post, “Allen appeared confused moments after prison officials lifted a curtain separating the death chamber from witnesses. Slurring his words, Allen spoke for two minutes in an address that mentioned both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.”
Rachel Peterson of the McAlester News-Capital has a detailed account of Allen’s final moments. From her report:
Allen then began to talk. He rambled unintelligibly about Obama and Romney. Allen’s garbled speech about the presidential race coincided with a loud banging noise as the other inmates in H-Unit said their good-byes.
“Obama won two out of three counties. It’s going to be a very close race,” Allen said just before Oklahoma State Penitentiary Deputy Warden Art Lightle asked him if he had a last statement.
Allen looked at Lightle and asked, “Huh?” Then he continued in his garbled speech and then again raised his head and said, “Hi,” to his attorneys. Allen’s unintelligible ramblings continued. He spoke about Obama and Jesus.
“I hope that more realize Jesus is the son of God — the only son of God. Jesus is the one and only savior,” Allen said. This statement was followed by more unintelligible ramblings.
Lightle told Allen that his two minutes were coming to an end. Allen turned his head to look at Lightle and asked, “What?” Then he continued his garbled speech.
One of Allen’s attorneys began to get teary eyed and she leaned down and placed her head in her hands. At 6:02 p.m., when she sat back up, and as Allen’s unintelligible talking continued, Lightle said, “Let the execution begin.”
Allen again turned his head and looked at Lightle and asked, “Huh?”
Then he lifted his head and looked at the witnesses, fixing his eyes on his attorneys. “Hi,” he said to them again. And again they both lifted their hands and waved at him.
His garbled speech continued until the concoction of execution drugs apparently affected his system. He turned and lifted his head one last time and looked at Lightle. He made a loud, strained grunting sound and laid his head back down on the gurney.
Allen’s time of death was 6:10 p.m. CT.
Titsworth’s family issued a statement following the execution, saying, “Our beloved Gail, daughter, sister and mother of two young boys, was taken from our family tragically and senselessly due to domestic violence,” the statement said. “For over 25 years, we have waited for justice to be served and for this sentence to be carried out. We are thankful to close the book on this chapter today but we will never stop grieving the loss of Gail.”