The stepmother of two children murdered in 1993 by Oklahoma death row inmate Michael Hooper will not get to witness the condemned killer's execution.
Hooper, whose bid to delay his execution was denied by a federal judge last week, is scheduled to die by lethal injection Tuesday.
The inmate was convicted of killing Cynthia Jarman, 23, and her two young children, Tonya and Timmy Jarman, in Canadian County nearly 20 years ago. The victims' bodies were found Dec. 10, 1993, after days of searching.
Alicia Jarman, who had recently married the children's father at the time of the murders, wants to watch Hooper die when he is executed by the state of Oklahoma. She believes doing so will bring her a sense of closure and could possibly improve her overall mental health.
Justin Jones, director of the state Corrections Department, sent a letter to Jarman's attorney in early July. The short letter indicates that Jarman would be allowed to attend Hooper's execution.
“Your request for Ms. Alicia Jarman, stepmother of the Jarman children, to attend the execution of Michael Hooper will be approved,” Jones wrote.
Lesley Smith March, director of the state attorney general's victim services unit, said the Corrections Department decided not to allow Jarman to attend the execution after speaking with her ex-husband, James Jarman.
Smith March said James Jarman “strenuously” objected to his ex-wife's attending the execution. She said the Corrections Department decided that because Jarman wasn't related by blood or marriage to any of the victims, she couldn't attend.
“Normally, we meet with the family during the clemency hearing,” Smith March said. “And that may have caused some of the problems in this case, because Hooper waived his clemency hearing.”
Close to children
Jarman had known the children for two years before marrying their father, James Jarman. Cynthia Jarman and the children were murdered while Alicia Jarman and her new husband were on their honeymoon in Colorado.
“When we got back from our honeymoon, we were going to go after custody of the children,” she said. “When we told Tonya we were getting married, on Thanksgiving, she was … very happy.”
Jarman, who was 19 at the time of the murders, said she has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder since the violent deaths of Tonya and Timmy Jarman, who were 5 and 3 respectively.
“I'm having massive stress because of not being able to go,” she said. “I'm not sleeping at night, and when I do sleep, I wake up screaming.”
Jarman said her ex-husband opposes her attendance because of “back child support” he owes. The couple had a child in 1998 and divorced the same year.
“He owes right around $150,000 in back child support,” Jarman said. “He's never had anything to do with the child.”
It is the child support issue — and nothing else — that is driving James Jarman to block her attendance, she said.
“Up until the last year, he had told me that he wouldn't mind me going to the execution,” she said. “But now that I've pushed the contempt of court charges for him not paying the child support, he's decided that he doesn't want me to go.”
James Jarman doesn't deny that he owes the $150,000 in child support or that he's never been a part of the child's life.
But he said that has nothing to do with his decision to exclude his ex-wife from the execution.
James Jarman said his ex-wife called him in 2008 and asked him if she could attend Hooper's execution and he told her she could. Things changed, however, and he had a change of heart.
“Since that time, she's gone to school and become a grief counselor. … She's trying to put that on her resume,” he said. “She didn't even allow my children to come to the wedding. … She's never had anything to do with them whatsoever.
“She's not a part of this family, she never was. She never cared about those children.”
Knowing not enough
Jarman said simply knowing that Hooper is dead — if and when he is put to death — isn't enough for her.
Hooper, who was 21 at the time of the murders, tried to get a federal judge to delay his execution by questioning the supply of the state's execution drug pentobarbital. The judge denied his attorney's request for a preliminary injunction.
“You never, ever get closure from something like this — ever,” she said. “I want to watch him die, so that I can, afterwards, take a deep breath, let it out and say, ‘OK, it's done.'”
The murder of the young children was so traumatic, so life-changing, she said, that she pursued a career as a counselor to help others.
“This has impacted every aspect of my life,” she said. “I've been dealing with this for half my life.”