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Wanda Jean Allen executed Two-time killer dies by lethal injection

Bobby Ross Jr. Published: January 12, 2001
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McALESTER - Just hours after Gov. Frank Keating and the U.S. Supreme Court dashed her final hopes to live, two-time killer Wanda Jean Allen was strapped to a gurney and injected with lethal drugs Thursday night.

Allen, 41, was pronounced dead at 9:21 p.m. at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.

"Two families were victimized by Wanda Jean Allen," Attorney General Drew Edmondson told more than 50 reporters and photographers before the execution.

"Our thoughts are with them. They have waited a dozen years for justice in this case."

Allen's death marked the first execution of a woman in Oklahoma since statehood.

She joined a murderer's row of 114 men electrocuted, hanged or poisoned by the state since 1915.

"Father, forgive them, they know not what they do," Allen said in her final words, her emotion-choked voice repeating the last words attributed to Jesus Christ executed on a cross 2,000 years ago.

"That's it. Thank you."

Twenty-four relatives of murder victim Gloria Leathers and manslaughter victim Detra Pettus traveled to McAlester for the execution. Many of those relatives watched the execution from behind a tinted window.

Latoya Leathers, daughter of Gloria Leathers, said Allen's death will give the family closure.

The daughter criticized the Rev. Jesse Jackson for twice traveling to Oklahoma City and protesting on Allen's behalf.

"We're the victims, not Wanda Jean... and justice has been served," Latoya Leathers said after the execution.

In the moments before the execution, a chaplain read aloud from the Bible. A playful Allen, wearing a gray inmate shirt with a white sheet covering most of her body, turned her head toward her attorneys and spiritual advisers.

She then smiled and stuck out her tongue.

David Presson, a member of Allen's legal team, flashed the "I Love You" sign at her.

She replied, "Bet that."

"It's wrong," the Rev. Robin Meyers, minister of the Mayflower Congregational Church, said after watching Allen's last breath.

"It's wrong," agreed the Rev. Walter Little, pastor of the Redeemer Lutheran Church in Oklahoma City. "Sitting there and reading the Scripture and committing murder."

Allen was condemned to die in the 1988 murder of her lesbian lover, Gloria Leathers, who was shot outside The Village police station.

"Our loved one wasn't given a choice about life," Leathers' family said in a written statement Thursday night. "She didn't even have a chance to look Wanda in the face to ask her to spare her life."

At the time of Leathers' murder, Allen was on probation for the 1981 manslaughter of Detra Pettus.

Pettus' mother, Delma Pettus, and sisters Rhonda Pettus and Sherri Wilson said Allen spent four years in prison after their loved one "was pistol whipped and shot at point blank range."

"The short prison stays are a part of the reason crimes are repeated," the Pettus family said in a written statement. "It has taken 20 years and a second murder in order to get the death penalty."

Allen was the sixth woman executed in the United States since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. She was the first black woman executed since Ohio electrocuted Betty Jean Butler in 1954.

Allen was the second of eight Oklahoma inmates scheduled to die by lethal injection in a four-week period. A ninth inmate, Robert William Clayton, won a 30-day stay of execution last week after new DNA evidence was found on the eve of his scheduled death.

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