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DEATH row inmate wants to apologize for slaying

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ A Mexican national whose execution is on hold said he hopes Gov. Frank Keating will grant his request for clemency but wouldn't be disappointed if Keating didn't.

Gerardo Valdez, speaking via telephone from the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, told the Tulsa World Monday that he was not surprised that the state Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-1 to recommend Keating commute Valdez's sentence to life without the possibility of parole. Valdez said he prayed that something good would come out of the clemency hearing.

``I understand that the decision is very much up to the governor and that we hope he can find it in his heart to accept the recommendation of the Pardon and Parole Board,'' said Bob Nance, Valdez's Oklahoma City attorney.

Keating issued a 30-day stay of Valdez's June 19 execution after considering arguments from Mexican government officials. The governor issued the stay after Mexican President Vincente Fox made a personal plea by telephone.

Valdez's attorneys and Mexican officials say Valdez was not notified of his right to contact the Mexican consulate after his arrest, which violates international law.

``In light of the sensitivity and significance of this matter, I think it is appropriate for my office to continue its review of the Valdez case,'' Keating said in a statement June 16.

Valdez, who spoke via a three-way conference call with Nance, said he wants to tell the family of his victim, Juan Barron, that he is sorry for the slaying and hopes that they can forgive him.

Valdez shot Barron twice in the head, slit his throat and then burned his body in the back yard of his Grady County home. Valdez's actions came after Barron was not receptive to Valdez's contention that homosexuality is wrong based on the teaching of the Bible.

Barron's brother, Sammy Barron, was out of state and not available for comment.

Valdez said God intends for people to live together in peace and love and that revenge is up to God.
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