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Federal judge issues stay of execution for Oklahoma death row inmate

A federal judge has issued a stay of execution for Oklahoma death row inmate Jeffrey David Matthews, 38, of Purcell, who was scheduled for lethal injection Tuesday for killing his 77-year-old great-uncle in 1994.
BY Michael Baker Modified: August 18, 2010 at 12:03 pm •  Published: August 18, 2010

In papers filed with the court, the Federal Public Defenders office argued the substitute has never been used in an execution, is experimental and there is no proof it is a humane alternative.

The state thinks the drug is in compliance with state statute that says the sedative must be "ultrashort-acting barbiturate," said Charlie Price, spokesman for Attorney General Drew Edmondson's office.

In issuing the 60-day stay, Friot noted the Corrections Department learned in mid-July the dose of sodium thiopental intended for the execution had expired. Friot further noted that more thiopental could not be obtained and Matthews' attorneys only learned about the substitution on Monday.

Friot set a hearing for Oct. 15. If the execution is allowed to happen, a new date would likely be set for about 30 days, Price said.

Matthews intervened in a case filed in February by James Pavatt, who was convicted of killing Rob Andrew to get the proceeds of an insurance policy. At the time, Pavatt was having an affair with Andrew's wife, Brenda Andrew, who also was sentenced to death.

A family waits

Matthews has maintained his innocence in letters to media and a prison interview, which was conducted by Los Angeles actress Victoria Redstall and posted on YouTube.

Cowan said the family of the Shorts has grown weary of Matthews' claims, the publicity and the delays.

"With him on death row, I don't understand how in the world he is on YouTube," Cowan said. "We want to get this over with."

Matthews was convicted of being one of two men who entered into the Shorts' home near Rosedale on Jan. 27, 1994, along with Tracy Dyer. According to prosecutors and trial testimony, Matthews shot Otis Short once in the head, and Dyer cut Minnie Short's throat.

Items taken during the robbery were found in Matthews' home, prosecutors said, and the pistol used to shoot Short was found buried behind the Matthews home.

Dyer, 37, was convicted of first-degree murder and other charges at a separate trial and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. has disabled the comments for this article.