Oklahoma Inmate On Death Row Dies Of Natural Causes
McALESTER, Oklahoma - The Oklahoma Department of Corrections says a prisoner on death row for a 1983 murder in Muskogee died over the weekend of natural causes at the state penitentiary in McAlester.
Following a trial in 1984, Sammy Van Woudenberg was sentenced to death for the strangulation death of Mark Berry of Durant in the Muskogee County jail.
Van Woudenberg was serving a life sentence out of Tulsa County for a 1972 murder when he escaped from prison in 1983. He was captured a month later and was taken to the Muskogee County jail, where he killed Berry.
Berry was in jail for stealing government property, but Van Woudenberg and two other men were convinced he was a snitch and strangled him with a wire, hung him in the shower and tried to make it look like a suicide.
Van Woudenberg and one other were sentenced to death. The third man got 35 years.
One man was executed, but in 2001 a judge decided Van Woudenberg couldn't be executed because he was mentally ill. The just said he could be executed if he got better, but that never happened.
Van Woudenberg was 64.