Oklahoma has the opportunity to save a life on April 8, 2010 and it is our responsibility to take action to prevent another state killing. Richard Smith was convicted of murder in 1987, and now has been on death row for more than half of his life. Not only do six jurors from his trial now oppose his execution, but so does a brother of the victim.
Similar to many other death penalty cases, Richard Smith was not given an adequate defense. His lawyer presented almost no evidence, and no expert testimony. He did not begin investigating until seven to ten days before the date of trial, and he failed to present evidence of Smith’s past abuse as a child, addiction problems, psychological problems, brain injury, and borderline intelligence.
If the jury at the time of the trial had heard this evidence, the outcome of Smith’s case could have been significantly different. The six jurors who now oppose his execution exemplify the very reason why we should act in the name of justice. Due to Smith’s poor representation in trial, we must act to commute the death sentence of Richard Smith.
Executive clemency is in place so that justice can be upheld even when the courts drop the ball. In the case of Mr. Smith, powerful mitigating evidence was never heard by a jury. Justice would not be served by executing Richard Smith under these circumstances. The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board should recommend that Governor Brad Henry commute this death sentence, and Governor Henry should accept that recommendation.