Terminally Ill Man Executed In Oklahoma

Tuesday, June 26th 2007, 1:11 pm
By: News On 6

McALESTER, Okla. (AP) _ An Oklahoma death row inmate who was dying of cancer was executed Tuesday after his final bid for a reprieve was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Jimmy Dale Bland, a two-time killer who shot his 62-year-old employer in the back of the head 11 years ago, became the second person executed by the state this year.

``I'm sorry for what happened,'' Bland said in brief remarks to his family members, including his mother, brother and two sisters, who witnessed Bland's execution at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. Prison officials declined to identify them.

Much of what Bland said to his family was inaudible because of a defect in the death chamber's public address system.

``I love you all. I love you all,'' Bland said looking toward his family members. He then turned to prison officials in the death chamber and said: ``I'm ready.''

Bland, 49, was terminally ill with advanced lung cancer that had spread to his brain and his hip bone, according to his attorney, David Autry, who also witnessed the execution. Bland received radiation and chemotherapy treatment, and his doctors said he had as little as six months to live.

Bland appeared pale as officials began administering a lethal dose of chemicals into his tattooed left arm. He closed his eyes and breathed heavily for a few seconds and then turned ashen as the drugs took effect.

``He's in heaven,'' Bland's brother whispered. His mother and sisters wept softly as a physician declared Bland dead at 6:19 p.m.

Bland's execution was opposed by anti-death penalty groups who said executing a terminally ill man was pointless and raised ethical issues.

Autry had asked the Supreme Court to block Bland's execution and decide whether executing a terminally ill inmate violates the Constitution's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. The court denied the request late Tuesday afternoon, said Charlie Price, spokesman for the Oklahoma Attorney General's Office.

Bland was sentenced to death for the Nov. 14, 1996, murder of Doyle Windle Rains, who was shot in the back of the head in his garage with a .22-caliber rifle. Members of the victim's family as well as the family members of Bland's first victim, Raymond Prentice, who was shot to death in 1975, also witnessed the execution.

Prentice's family members said afterward they felt sorry for Bland's family but were happy that the death sentence was carried out.

``It's about 32 years past due,'' said Ronnie Prentice, the first victim's son.

They also said they did not accept Bland's expression of remorse.

``He never had remorse,'' said Jackie Barker, Raymond Prentice's sister-in-law. ``He didn't have remorse the first time. He didn't have remorse the second time.''

Bland spent 20 years of a 60-year sentence in jail after pleading guilty to manslaughter and kidnapping charges in Raymond Prentice's death. He had been out of prison less than a year when he was accused of killing Rains.

``If they'd have kept him in jail, the second man would not have been killed,'' Barker said.

Members of Prentice's family said they were not troubled by Bland's medical condition.

``We've had cancer in our family,'' said Traci Cox, Prentice's niece. ``He had the easy way out. He didn't have to suffer.''

Members of Rains' family declined to speak with reporters following the execution.

Bland is the first terminally ill inmate to face execution in the state. In August 1995, convicted killer Robert Brecheen, 40, was executed by lethal injection following an apparent attempt to take his own life with a drug overdose.

Bland was arrested two days after Rains' death for driving under the influence while driving a vehicle owned by Rains. Bland, who did construction and handyman work for Rains, confessed to killing Rains and hiding his body.

The first person put to death by the state this year was Corey Duane Hamilton, 38, on Jan. 9 for the execution-style slaying of four fast-food employees during a robbery in 1992.

An Aug. 21 execution is scheduled for death row inmate Frank Duane Welch, who was convicted of murder in the 1987 death of 29-year-old Jo Talley Cooper at her Norman home.