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Man sentenced for execution, Edmondson requests date for another

Updated:

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A Jan. 31 execution date was set Monday for a man whose initial death sentence was overturned in 1998, but lawyers said they'll appeal it.

James Joseph Fitzgerald was convicted of murdering Tulsa store attendant William J. Russell in July 1994.

The state Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Fitzgerald's 1996 murder conviction in 1998, but voted unanimously to overturn his death sentence, citing errors in his sentencing.

Fitzgerald was also convicted of two armed robberies for holdups at other convenience stores on the day he murdered Russell, 22.

Between 1976 and 1989, Fitzgerald accumulated convictions in Nebraska for escape and two burglaries, a conviction in Indiana for robbery and four convictions in Illinois for burglary.

Lawyers with the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System on Monday filed notice of their intent to appeal the newly imposed death sentence.

Nine inmates, including Fitzgerald, are scheduled to be executed in Oklahoma in January.

Also on Monday, Attorney General Drew Edmondson requested an execution date for D.L. Jones Jr., who has been on Oklahoma's death row longer than any other inmate.

Jones, 61, was convicted in 1980 in the August 1979 shooting death of 48-year-old Stanley Eugene Buck Sr. at a Lawton bar.

Jones also shot and wounded Buck's 19-year-old son, Stanley Eugene Buck, Jr., and 40-year-old Betty Jean Strain.

Jones was 39 years old at the time of the murder and was sentenced to death on June 9, 1980.

According to the attorney general's office, Jones threatened to shoot a bartender who asked him to cover a gun sticking out of his boot. He pulled the gun seconds later and shot Strain and the Bucks, the attorney general's office said.

Strain's injuries resulted in the removal of her spleen and Stanley Jr. is paralyzed on his left side.


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