Governor rejects commutation for Lamb

Thursday, October 12th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Gov. Frank Keating on Thursday turned down a recommendation that he commute the life prison sentence of convicted killer Cathy Sue Lamb.

Keating rejected a recommendation by the state Pardon and Parole Board that Lamb's sentence of life without parole be commuted to life with the possibility of parole. The board recommended commutation for Lamb by a vote of 3-2 last month.

"There is no manifest injustice and it would be inappropriate to follow the recommendation of the Pardon and Parole Board,"

Keating said.

Lamb, 48, was convicted of first-degree murder for the April 2, 1991, shooting death of 23-year-old Darrell Lovell. Lovell was shot in the head outside a LeFlore County bar.

Lamb described the events that led up to the shooting during an appearance before the board on Aug. 15.

Lamb said she had been kicked out of the bar and fired one warning shot into the air to prevent other bar patrons from following her and her boyfriend.

Outside the bar, Lamb's boyfriend and Lovell, who was across the street, exchanged words. Lamb said Lovell crossed the street and pushed her aside. She then fired another warning shot.

Lamb said Lovell again pushed her, and the gun discharged, striking him in the head.

Keating said Lamb's attorneys had indicated that the shooting was an accident. But Keating said his office's investigation of the case indicated that the shooting was deliberate.

"This was a premeditated first-degree killing. This was not an accident. The jury has spoken," Keating said.

Keating said members of the Pardon and Parole Board may have felt that Lamb deserved consideration because she has been a model prisoner, but the governor said Lamb's good behavior behind bars is not an issue.

"Exemplary behavior is not relevant," Keating said. "Every prisoner should be a model prisoner."

Lamb is one of more than 400 Oklahoma inmates serving life without parole sentences. Hers was the first case granted a hearing by the parole board.

Board member Patrick Morgan requested the hearing because of special circumstances in the case, including a letter from the former district attorney whose office prosecuted Lamb.

In a November 1998 letter to Keating, then-LeFlore County District Attorney Mike Sullivan wrote that he thought Lamb's sentence "was too harsh."

If her sentence had been commuted, Lamb would have been eligible for parole in 2006 after serving 15 years in prison.