McALESTER, Okla. — Oklahoma executed a man on Thursday for the 1993 murder by torture of his girlfriend’s 3-year-old son, the third of four scheduled executions in the United States over a two-day period.
With the execution of Richard Stephen Fairchild, the state has now put seven people to death since resuming executions in October 2021. During that time, Oklahoma has carried out more executions than neighboring Texas, which since 1976 has executed far more people than any other state.
More than half of Oklahoma’s 40 people currently on death row have execution dates set within the next two years after the state’s Court of Criminal Appeals issued a moratorium in 2015 to the aftermath of a botched execution and two drug mixes in the death chamber.
Fairchild’s execution was the 16th in the United States this year – including one in Texas and one in Arizona on Wednesday – up from 11 last year. An execution scheduled for later Thursday in Alabama was finally called off after officials rose against a midnight deadline could not find a suitable vein to inject the deadly drugs.
After Thursday, three more executions are scheduled in the United States for the rest of 2022 – one in Missouri, Oklahoma and Idaho, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
Fairchild, who turned 63 on Thursday, began receiving the first of a lethal three-drug combination at 10:10 a.m. at Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. He was pronounced dead at 10:24 a.m.
Fairchild, an ex-Marine, was found guilty of murdering Adam Broomhall after the child wet the bed. Prosecutors say Fairchild held both sides of Adam’s body against a hot furnace, then threw him on a table. The child never regained consciousness and died later that day.
Tied to a stretcher inside the death chamber, Fairchild thanked his attorneys and prison staff and apologized to Adam’s family.
“Today is a day for Adam, justice for Adam,” Fairchild said.
“I am at peace with God. Don’t grieve for me because I’m coming home to meet my Heavenly Father.”
Michael Hurst, the slain child’s uncle, said the boy would have been 34.
“Our long journey for justice has finally arrived,” Hurst said, adding that he was surprised to hear Fairchild express remorse for killing his nephew. “He hadn’t said that in 30 years.”
Prosecutors from the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office had described the boy’s murder as torture when they wrote to the state’s Pardons and Parole Board, which last month voted 4-1 against the leniency recommendation for Fairchild.
Lawyers for Fairchild argued that he had been abused as a child, was mentally ill, and was remorseful.
“As Richard Fairchild’s brain deteriorated, he fell into psychosis, a fact well documented in his prison records,” Emma Rolls, one of Fairchild’s lawyers, said in a statement to the Commission. pardons and parole. “Yet, despite having lost touch with reality, Richard remains remorseful for his crime and continues to have an unblemished criminal record. There is no policy reason for Oklahoma to execute him. .
Fairchild’s attorneys filed last-minute appeals Wednesday with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court, but both courts denied his claims Thursday.
Also on Thursday, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals denied a request by death row inmate Richard Glossip for a hearing to determine whether a co-defendant was seeking to recant testimony that Glossip hired him to kill. motel owner Barry Van Treese. The execution of Glossip is scheduled for February.
Glossip’s attorneys allege evidence was withheld by prosecutors, including interviews with witnesses. The court denied a similar request from Glossip earlier this month and ruled on Thursday that the issues were not eligible for review because they had been previously settled by the courts, could have arisen in previous appeals or had not been raised within 60 days of their discovery.
The United States has seen dwindling support for the death penalty across all political parties in recent years. About 6 in 10 Americans support the death penalty, according to the General Social Survey, a survey of major trends conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago. While a majority continues to express support for the death penalty, the share has declined steadily since the 1990s, when nearly three-quarters were in favour.
Associated Press reporter Ken Miller in Oklahoma City contributed to this report.
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