Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board Denies Clemency in Fairchild Case – Execution by Lethal Injection Nov. 17

Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

By Alexis Rios-Jimenez

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK- Richard Fairchild, 62, on death row for the 1993 murder of his ex-girlfriend’s three-year-old son, was denied clemency this week by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board. Fairchild is scheduled for execution by lethal injection Nov. 17.

In a statement, Fairchild’s attorney expressed deep concerns over the decision, explaining Fairchild is “profoundly impaired by schizoaffective disorder and a degenerative brain disease.”

One of the death row prisoner’s attorneys, Emma Rolls, remarked Fairchild’s condition is so severe that his “brain has deteriorated, he has descended into psychosis, a fact well-documented in his prison records.”

Rolls asserts there is no moral reason for which Fairchild should be executed in light of his mental incapacities. She also adds that Fairchild remains remorseful of his actions and has maintained a clean prison record.

Additionally, Rolls explained, “Mr. Fairchild is now suffering from the effects of major mental illness, namely schizoaffective disorder, leaving him tortured with continued delusions. His psychosis has been confirmed over the course of years by Oklahoma’s Department of Corrections and often goes untreated.”

The defense statement was meant to provide insight into Fairchild’s upbringing and youth, which is presented as the period of his life from which he sustained massive brain damage.

The lawyers note Fairchild’s upbringing involved being “raised in an extremely abusive home riddled by alcohol and substance abuse.” In addition to the abuse at home, Fairchild had suffered “significant brain damage due to the repeated head trauma he received as an amateur, teenage boxer,” they said.

The statement argued evidence of organic brain damage, and the fact that despite the U.S. Supreme Court deeming such information as crucial in a death penalty case, the evidence was, “never explored or presented by Mr. Fairchild’s attorneys at trial.”

The appeal lawyers said there were many shortcomings of the trial attorney, chief among them being the gross failure of the attorney to conduct an investigation on Fairchild’s organic brain damage and provide the court with information that could have spared Fairchild from execution.

The clemency petition portrays Fairchild’s trial attorney, John Albert, as incompetent in his representation of his client. The petition describes how Albert “was drinking heavily during trial, did almost no investigation, and only talked to his mental health expert for a few minutes before putting him on the stand.”

Albert would later be suspended from practicing law.

The appeal lawyers added that, despite the important context provided by the introduction of thoroughly researched evidence on Fairchild’s brain damage and the trial attorney’s inadequate time and resources to properly investigate the details surrounding his subpar representation, “Mr. Fairchild’s inadequate legal process proceeded and procedurally prevented relevant claims from being heard by subsequent courts.”

About The Author

Alexis Rios-Jimenez is a recent graduate from California State University, Los Angeles where he majored in Political Science with an option in Pre-Legal Studies as well as a minor in Communications. He currently works for a personal injury law firm as he prepares to go to law school to become a civil rights attorney. Alexis is actively involved in his community, representing the 57th assembly district in the democratic party as a Delegate.

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