State executes Tecumseh banker's killer

Friday, October 19th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

McALESTER, Okla. (AP) _ In the dwindling hours before they took him to the death chamber, Alvie James Hale had a visitor.

She prayed with him. She comforted his daughter. And then, Ronnye Perry Sharp watched Hale die by lethal injection for killing her brother 18 years ago.

Trembling and with tears in her eyes, Sharp called the 53-year-old's execution Thursday a sad moment and ``an empty victory'' because it didn't bring her brother back.

``What killed my brother was materialism, false priorities, greed violence,'' she said. ``Let this be a lesson to everyone tonight. Make yourself right with God. Get your priorities in life, so perhaps we can avoid another tragedy.''

Hale received the death sentence for kidnapping and killing William Jeffrey Perry, a 24-year-old Tecumseh banker, in a 1983 extortion attempt. Sharp and her mother, Joan Perry, both took calls demanding $350,000 ransom.

Sharp began visiting Hale six years ago. She saw it as a way to work through her anger and get at the truth, she said.

She now believes others involved in Perry's killing remain at large. She even started her own investigation. She said she could not be the judge of Hale's guilt.

``I believe in divine justice,'' she said. ``It's the only justice.''

Hale's eyes were bright, and he appeared upbeat as he lay strapped to a gurney at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.

He mouthed a greeting to a priest and lawyers witnessing on his behalf. His last statement was largely inaudible because he spoke softly.

``I want to say goodbye to my family and friends. I want to thank them for being there for me. Watch what you see here, remember it and go tell somebody,'' he said.

He thanked his attorneys and his daughter by name. And he thanked Sharp for being his friend.

His broad chest heaved and his cheeks puffed as the drugs began to flow, stealing his breath and then stopping his heart.

Hale, a former Shawnee bakery owner, had money troubles on Oct. 10, 1983, the day Perry failed to show up for work at the Tecumseh bank his parents owned and Hale patronized.

The calls demanding $350,000 in ransom came later that day. Mrs. Perry testified that she saw Hale in his truck as she dropped the cash off the at an arranged spot. The FBI arrested him in Oklahoma City after a chase.

They found Perry's body at the Earlsboro home of Hale's father. He had been shot five times.

Sharp called her brother a balance of fairness, business sense and kindess.

She said she forgave Hale long ago and spent about two hours visiting with him before Thursday's execution.

Her faith in God, she said, sustains her.

``Forgiveness lets you go on with your life, that's what it does,'' she said. ``I will continue this journey, and part of the journey is a search for the truth.''

Mrs. Perry said she could not forgive _ not yet.

``I haven't got that far along yet,'' she said. ``I'm working on it, and with a strong faith in God I'll get there maybe one of these days.''

Hale worked as a prison law clerk, helping other inmates with appeals.

He won two stays in his own case _ one issued by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the second by Gov. Frank Keating. The governor's stay in August enabled Hale to make a plea for clemency, which the Pardon and Parole Board rejected.

The U.S. Supreme Court denied Hale's final appeal Wednesday. It sought permission to interview ``reluctant witnesses'' in an apparent attempt to show someone else was to blame for the murder.