Sen. Constance Johnson's told a gathering of religious leaders at the state Capitol that she had a decision to make when her brother was slain in 1981 on the Langston University campus.
“Before I could go forward, I had to forgive,” Johnson, D-Forest Park, said.
Although the man accused of her brother's murder was only in jail until the trial, Johnson said she didn't believe in the death penalty 31 years ago and she still doesn't.
Wednesday was a worldwide day of opposition to capital punishment, and an Oklahoma association of religious leaders presented a theological statement opposing the death penalty.
The Rev. William Tabbernee, executive director of the Oklahoma Conference of Churches, said he was shocked when he came to Oklahoma that capital punishment was still condoned.
He said 87 countries and 17 U.S. states have abolished the death penalty.
“Isn't it time Oklahoma abolish the death penalty?” he asked.
Tabbernee and other religious leaders say the Bible supports opposition to retribution and the death penalty.
To date 183 individuals have been executed in Oklahoma, most recently Michael E. Hooper was killed using lethal injection in August. Hooper, 39, was convicted of shooting his girlfriend and her two children to death in 1993.
There were no executions in Oklahoma between 1966 and 1990. The current death penalty law was enacted in 1977 by lawmakers.
New proposal planned
Johnson said she will be proposing legislation to abolish the death penalty in Oklahoma next session. This is not the first time she has authored an abolition bill, but she said her proposed legislation has never even been heard on the floor or even granted a hearing in committee.
Advocates of abolishing the death penalty Wednesday also discussed starting a petition drive to get a sense of where Oklahomans stand on the issue and to work toward getting a question on the ballot.