Execution: Oklahoma Inmate to Face Lethal Injection for Double Murder

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma is preparing to carry out the execution of Michael DeWayne Smith, convicted of fatally shooting two individuals in the city over 20 years ago. This would mark the state’s first execution of the year and the 12th since capital punishment was reinstated in 2021. Smith, 41, is set to receive a lethal injection at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester on Thursday.

Despite Smith’s claims of innocence and his insistence that he was under the influence of drugs and hallucinating when he confessed to the crimes, his requests for an emergency stay have been repeatedly denied. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, for the fourth time, and the U.S. Supreme Court have both rejected his appeals. Despite his attorneys’ arguments regarding his intellectual disability, the execution is still scheduled to proceed.

Smith’s case dates back to February 22, 2002, when he was convicted of first-degree murder for the deaths of Janet Moore, 40, and Sharath Babu Pulluru, 24, in separate incidents. Moore was shot at her residence, while Pulluru was shot multiple times at a convenience store before being set on fire. Prosecutors argued that Smith’s actions were motivated by mistaken identities and revenge against perceived informants.

In addition to the 2002 shootings, Smith was also convicted of second-degree murder for his involvement in a separate incident in November 2001. Despite attempts to appeal for clemency, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted against granting Smith a commutation of his sentence, leaving him with no recourse other than the scheduled execution.

Oklahoma’s pace in carrying out executions has faced challenges due to the stress it places on staff and the number of scheduled executions. After a hiatus of more than six years, the state resumed executions in late 2021, but the ambitious execution schedule had to be slowed down due to various factors. The Department of Corrections is now seeking longer intervals between executions to manage the workload effectively.