A convicted killer was sentenced to death for the second time Monday in the 1997 beating death of a 73-year-old man. James Allen Coddington was convicted and sentenced to death in 2003 for killing Albert Troy Hale, a co-worker at a Choctaw auto parts store. Coddington's death sentence was overturned on appeal, meaning another Oklahoma County jury had to hear evidence in the case and decide on the proper punishment. A seven-man, five-woman panel deliberated for about 4 1/2 hours Monday before affirming the previous jury's verdict. Coddington, 36, grimaced slightly as District Judge Jerry Bass read the last of four aggravating circumstances found by the jury, meaning he could be sentenced to death. Prosecutors had alleged Coddington was a violent felon who committed a heinous murder to avoid arrest. They also argued he was a continuing threat to society. Hale's son, Mitch Hale of Woodward, was pleased with the verdict. "Justice was served. Again,” he said. One of Coddington's relatives left the courtroom in tears after the judge confirmed each juror favored the death penalty. Formal sentencing was set for 9 a.m. Aug. 6. Coddington tried to borrow $50 from Hale on March 5, 1997, according to testimony presented at his trial. The older man refused. Hale tried to push Coddington out of his Choctaw home, but Coddington grabbed a claw hammer and bludgeoned the other man at least five times. He also took $525 from the fallen man's pocket, according to testimony. Prosecutors Sandra Elliott and Suzanne Lister said Coddington, who is serving six life terms for robberies, deserved to die for killing Hale. Defense attorneys Cathy Hammarsten and Faustine Curry urged the jury to have mercy on Coddington, who was raised by an abusive, alcoholic father after his mother was sent to prison when he was 6 weeks old. They said details of Coddington's childhood were meant to offer insight into his life, not excuses for his crime.
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