Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board Recommends Clemency for James Coddington – Up to Governor Now

PC: Oklahoma Department of Corrections via www.upi.com

By Vanguard Staff

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-2 to Wednesday to recommend death row prisoner James Coddington’s death sentence be commuted to life without the possibility of parole after a clemency hearing Wednesday.

Coddington is scheduled on Aug. 25 to be the first of 25 people scheduled to be executed in Oklahoma over the next two years, if Gov. Kevin Stitt fails to act on the recommendation of the Pardon and Parole Board.

“By voting to commute James Coddington’s death sentence, the Board has acknowledged that his case exemplifies the circumstances for which clemency exists. We urge Governor Stitt to adopt the Board’s recommendation,” said Emma Rolls, one of Coddington’s lawyers.

Testimony at the hearing focused on Coddington’s “profound remorse and the work he has done in prison to redeem himself…(he) has earned the trust and respect of prison staff, including being allowed to work in one of the few available jobs on death row as the Unit Orderly,” according to the defense.

Lawyers noted Coddington “has a clean prison record for more than 15 years…attained and maintained sobriety, earned his GED, and devoted himself to serving his prison community and his loved ones.

Mr. Coddington personally addressed the Board to express his remorse and to apologize to the family of his victim, Albert Hale.”

Coddington’s attorneys also noted the “extreme trauma he experienced as a child, beginning as an infant when his drug-addicted mother went to prison, leaving him in the care of an alcoholic and drug-addicted father.

Mr. Coddington’s father put beer and whiskey in his baby bottles, and raised him in a filthy shack littered with drug paraphernalia.

“Though a teacher raised concerns about the abuse and neglect Mr. Coddington experienced, no one intervened. He began using drugs as a young child to escape the chaos and violence of his daily life, then spent years struggling to overcome his addiction before committing the crime that put him on death row when he was just 24 years old.”

Coddington’s attorneys noted “his jury was not allowed to hear available expert testimony that he was so impaired by drug use that he could not form the intent required to commit first-degree murder.

The courts recognized that this exclusion violated his constitutional rights but inexplicably deemed it ‘harmless,’ while admitting Coddington has accepted full responsibility for killing Hale.

Coddington’s clemency petition: https://tinyurl.com/mpdwsmh2.

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