Update: On Tuesday, Aug. 17, a federal judge granted a third stay of execution for Jeffrey Matthews. This time the stay was based on a substitute sedative being used in Oklahoma’s lethal injection method.
A hearing has been set for Oct. 15 and a new execution date, if one is allowed, will be determined after that hearing.
In Thursday’s (Aug. 12) Oklahoman, I had an article on a clemency request of death-row inmate Jeffrey David Matthews, who is set for lethal injection on Tuesday. Since then the request for an unprecedented second clemency hearing has been denied. The state Attorney General’s Office laid out their argument against such a hearing in a letter to the pardon and parole board.
I first wrote about Matthews’ case in July with the article “Los Angeles actress, model fights for Oklahoma death row inmate’s freedom.” That article has links to many videos and documents that can give you background on the case, as well as a link to Victoria Redstall’s website. I have not been in touch with Redstall since that article.
But, I have received numerous inquiries from national media outlets about the case. I’ve been happy to help other journalist cover this story. I’m a firm believer that an execution must be covered. It’s the highest form of punishment the law allows and should receive the media’s full attention.
An unexpected response to that first article came from the condemned man himself. In a letter, “response to article by Michael Baker of Oklahoman,” sent to both The Oklahoman and The Tulsa World, Matthews compares himself to the tag line for the movie “Absence of Malice,” “Supposed you picked up this morning’s newspaper and your life was a front page headline… And everything they said was accurate… But none of it was true.”
I guess this comparison would make me Sally Field. Hmmm… Maybe we shouldn’t take the comparison too far.
If you read his letter, linked to above, you should make sure you also read the AG’s letter to the pardon and parole board and a letter the prosecutors sent to the Gov. Brad Henry. And remember the the two victims, Otis Short and his wife, Minnie, whose throat was slashed during the robbery and was forced to lay motionless next to her dead husband as her home was robbed.
I think as citizens, and certainly as a journalist, it’s important to know as much as possible about a case before the state’s harshest punishment is carried out.