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Witnessing execution was a horrific experience

Oklahoman Published: May 7, 2014

In 2005 I was witness to the execution of Michael Pennington at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. I was present as his spiritual adviser. It goes without saying that it was a horrific experience, one that I’ll never forget. Michael had been tried and convicted for murder many years prior and, in my estimation, had undergone a rather amazing transformation. Yet there he lay, someone I had come to know and care for, strapped down on the execution table with IVs affixed to both arms.

As the time of his death approached, he mouthed the words, “I love you” to his wife and mother. Then he looked at me and smiled his biggest smile. I couldn’t bring myself to smile back. Moments later, after the lethal drugs were injected, his head rolled to the side. He was dead.

After reading “Botched lethal injection prompts closer look” (News, April 30), I was reminded of the sacredness of life and how no one, not even the state, has the right to take the life of another. When we choose to execute someone, we lower ourselves to the level of the murderer. It’s time for Oklahoma to do what many states already have done and abolish the death penalty.

Gary D. Conrad, Edmond


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