Death Row Inmates Lose!

High Court Declines to Review Cases

Mitchell

WASHINGTON—Three Oklahoma death row inmates, as well as a federal inmate whose crime was committed in a national forest in southeast Oklahoma, lost their final appeals before the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this week.

On the first day of its new term, the high court declined without comment to review the cases of:

  • Marlon Deon Harmon, who was given the death penalty for the 2004 killing of Oklahoma City convenience store clerk Kamal Choudhury;
  • Nicholas Alexander Davis, who was convicted of killing 17-year-old Marcus Smith in Oklahoma City in 2004 in a shooting spree that wounded two others;
  • Alfred Brian Mitchell, who received the death penalty for the 1991 killing of Elaine Scott at the Pilot Recreation Center in Oklahoma City; and
  • Edward Leon Fields, who shot and killed Charles and Shirley Chick in 2003 at the Winding Stair campground in the Ouachita National Forest.

Mr. Harmon, 40, Mr. Davis, 46, and Mr. Mitchell, 47, are now eligible for execution dates when the state resumes executions.

Oklahoma has not executed an inmate since 2015 because of problems with administering lethal injection and obtaining the drugs used in the procedure. 

State officials announced in February that they intend to resume executions by lethal injection, though none have been scheduled.

There are now 31 Oklahoma death row inmates, who are eligible for execution dates, according to the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office.

Mr. Fields, 53, is on federal death row in Indiana because his crimes were committed on federal property. 

The federal government resumed executions in July after 17 years.

Meanwhile, the high court on Monday vacated the judgment in the case of Garry Wayne Wilson, who was convicted in state court of shooting Terrel Demond Smith to death in 2016 in Tulsa County. 

Mr. Wilson told the court he was wrongly tried in state court because he is a member of the Cherokee Nation and the crime occurred on the tribe’s reservation.

The Supreme Court ruled in July that the Muscogee (Creek) Nation was never disestablished and that major crimes involving Indians must be prosecuted in tribal or federal court.  That decision in expected to be formally applied in the next several weeks to the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Seminole Nations.

The Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office agreed in Mr. Wilson’s case that the appeals court judgment upholding his conviction should be vacated and the case remanded.

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