Board denies clemency for Ross

Friday, November 19th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board
denied clemency Friday for a man convicted of killing an Elk City police officer nearly 18 years ago.

The board voted 4-0 against commuting the death sentence of Bobby Lynn Ross, who is scheduled to die by injection Dec. 9.

Ross was found guilty in the Jan. 5, 1983, fatal shooting of Officer Steven Mahan, whom Ross encountered as he fled from a hotel he and another man had just robbed.

Ross' attorney, David Autry, told board members his client had the mental capacity of a child and that it would not be proper to
execute someone with a low I.Q.

Autry said he and Ross understood the impact his client's actions had on the victim's family, friends and colleagues, in that a "valuable member of the community was needlessly taken from them."

"I've talked to Bobby about this case many, many times and I know his remorse for this runs deep," Autry said.

But Robert Whitaker, assistant attorney general, disputed Autry's argument about Ross' diminished mental capacity and said
Ross' statements after his capture demonstrated he knew what he was doing.

Ross admitted he had robbed the Los Cuartos Inn, but told officers another man wearing gloves had forced Mahan to drop his service revolver, get face-down on the pavement and then shot him three times in the head.

Whitaker called that explanation "an intelligent defense," and not one a person bordering on mental retardation would provide.

"I submit to you that the loss is great and the sentence of death is appropriate and should be carried out," Whitaker said.

Mahan's father, Herbert, who spoke with the aid of a mechanical voice box, said his son liked being a police officer.

"He killed my son in cold blood and he's lived about 10 years too long," said Mahan, whose wife, Bessiemae, broke down in tears and declined to speak.

Ross was not in the room during that portion of the hearing, which only lasted about an hour. When escorted into the room by
guards, he looked straight ahead, avoiding the glances of Mahan's parents.

"I'm here today to give an apology to the Mahans," the soft-spoken Ross told the board. "I want them to know in person that I'm sorry for what I've done.

"I wish that the board would find it in their hearts to have mercy on me."

But board members did not.

Autry said he will now file a writ of habeas corpus with the U.S. Supreme Court, seeking to stop the execution.