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Board Denies Clemency To Terminally Ill Death Row Inmate

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board denied clemency Tuesday for a terminally ill death row inmate who is scheduled to be executed on June 26 for the shooting death of a 62-year-old man 11 years ago.

Jimmy Dale Bland, sentenced to death for the Nov. 14, 1996, murder of Doyle Windle Rains in Tillman County, is ``on the verge of death'' with advanced lung cancer that has spread to his brain and his hip bone, defense attorney David Autry told the five-member board.

Bland, 49, has been receiving radiation and chemotherapy but his doctors have given him as little as six months to live, Autry said.

``The board is dealing in this instance with a very unique situation,'' Autry said. ``This is a very, very sick man.''

He said the board had never considered commuting the death sentence of a terminally ill inmate and that Bland's execution would serve no purpose. ``I think it would be a sad and frankly grotesque spectacle,'' Autry said.

He said Bland's death sentence should be commuted out of ``simple decency and mercy for a person who is terminally ill and is going to die anyway.''

Autry also said courts had found prosecutorial misconduct in Bland's trial but that the acts were not serious enough to reverse the conviction and order a new trial.

Assistant Attorney General Seth Branham said Bland's medical condition was unusual but was not grounds for clemency. Branham said Bland forfeited his right to die of natural causes when he shot the victim in the back of the head.

``Cancer doesn't change what happened at that trial,'' Branham said referring to the jury that convicted Bland of first-degree murder and sentenced him to death.

The victim's stepdaughter, Christina Stringer, and her husband, Gary Stringer, also urged the board to deny clemency. Christina Stringer said Rains helped Bland and gave him a job when no one else would and paid for his acts of kindness with his life.

``He's had enough compassion,'' Gary Stringer said of Bland. ``He's had enough mercy. We need some justice here.''

The board voted 5-0 to deny clemency. Bland chose not to address the board via videoconference from his cell at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester and did not speak to Pardon and Parole Board investigators before the board's hearing.

``He feels at this point that all hope is lost,'' Autry said.

Bland is a two-time killer who spent 20 years of a 60-year sentence in jail after pleading guilty to manslaughter and kidnapping charges in 1975. He had been out of prison for about a year when he was accused of shooting Rains to death.

Bland was arrested for driving under the influence two days after Rains died. At the time he was driving a vehicle owned by Rains.

Bland later confessed to killing Rains at Rains' residence and hiding his body in a nearby field.

Attorney General Drew Edmondson's office requested the execution date in April after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Bland's final appeal.

Bland will be the second person executed in Oklahoma this year. Corey Duane Hamilton, 38, was executed on Jan. 9 for the execution-style slaying of four fast-food employees during a robbery in 1992.
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