An inmate on death row for 23 years who was scheduled to be executed earlier this year had his death penalty sentence commuted Wednesday to life without the possibility of parole. Gov. Brad Henry approved clemency for Richard Tandy Smith, 47, who was sentenced to death in 1986 for the shooting death of John Cederlund in Canadian County. The governor followed the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board’s recommendation. "I am always reluctant to intervene in a capital case, and I am very respectful of a jury’s verdict, the prosecutors who tried the case and the victim’s family who suffered because of the crime,” Henry said. "However, after reviewing all of the evidence and hearing from both prosecutors and defense attorneys, I decided the Pardon and Parole Board made a proper recommendation to provide clemency and commute the death sentence.” It was the third time in his nearly eight years in office that Henry has granted clemency in a death penalty case. In all those cases, the sentences were commuted to life without parole. Henry approved clemency in 2008 for Kevin Young and in 2004 for Osbaldo Torres, a Mexican national on death row. Before making his decision on the board’s recommendation, the governor said he talked with attorneys on both sides of the case and reviewed Smith’s case file and all related information pertaining to his clemency hearing. Smith had been scheduled to die by lethal injection April 8. Henry issued a stay of execution in March to study his case. Smith was convicted of killing Cederlund after robbing him of drugs. The U.S. Supreme Court turned down his appeal in 1992. Smith claimed that the state should have provided funding to hire an investigator to assist him with his defense. Smith also said the state improperly used his criminal record to prove two aggravating circumstances in the sentencing phase.
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