An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.  - Gandhi

Oklahoma death row inmate Bigler Stouffer executed

MCALESTER, Okla. (KOKH Dec. 9, 2021) — Oklahoma death row inmate Bigler Stouffer was executed at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester on Thursday morning.

Stouffer was pronounced dead at 10:16 a.m. after receiving a lethal three-drug injection.

The 79-year-old Stouffer was convicted in the 1985 murder of Putnam City school teacher Linda Reaves. He maintained his innocence while sitting on death row for 36 years.

“The State’s execution of Bigler Stouffer was carried out with zero complications at 10:16 this morning,” the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office said in a statement. “Justice is now served for Linda Reaves, Doug Ivens, and the people of Oklahoma.”

Associated Press reporter Sean Murphy sat roughly 15 feet away from Stouffer in the witness room. FOX25’s Wayne Stafford spoke with him about the events that unfolded in the death chamber from 10 a.m. until Stouffer was pronounced dead at 10:16 a.m.

Murphy said Stouffer’s exact last words were: ‘My request is that my Father forgive them. Thank you.’

Stouffer had his pastor present in the death chamber with him. Murphy says after Stouffer said his last words, the microphone was cut off so witnesses could not hear the conversation, but the pastor and Stouffer continued talking. Murphy said Stouffer was laughing and smiling at times leading up to his final moments.

“Once the drug was administered, Mr. Stouffer slowly shut his eyes. He continued to breathe for some time,” Murphy said. “The doctor came in and performed a consciousness check about seven minutes after the execution began, rubbed his sternum and didn’t get any reaction. He was declared unconscious at that time.”

Murphy said after Stouffer was declared unconscious, the second drug, a paralytic, began to be administered.

“His breathing slowly became more shallow, and then…his chest appeared to stop moving. And then he was declared dead about nine minutes later,” Murphy said.

Murphy, who has seen 15 other executions, said this execution appeared to be without complication. Out of the 15, Murphy said only two executions he has witnessed seemed to be problematic: Clayton Lockett and John Grant.

“From the look of things, he appeared to be at peace and he seemed to go peacefully,” Murphy said.

Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor also tweeted out a statement on Thursday morning ahead of the execution:

36 years. That’s how long the families of Linda Reaves and Doug Ivens and the people of Oklahoma have waited for justice. Today, justice will be served.

Linda Reaves was brutally murdered by Bigler Stouffer on January 24, 1985. Linda was a loving daughter, sister, and friend. A teacher, she was passionate about her students. Linda loved Christmas, and in the years after her murder, Doug mourned her death by placing a Christmas tree at her grave every year. Although Doug survived his three gunshot wounds inflicted at Stouffer’s hand, he ultimately passed away in April of 2016.

Even after nearly 37 years, Stouffer’s violence against Linda and Doug continues to have a lasting effect on their families. Nothing can bring back Linda or erase the pain felt by Linda and Doug’s families. Our office prays that they may now find some peace and our thoughts and prayers are with them.

The Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty’s (OK-CADP) Chairman Reverend Don Heath, said Stouffer’s death was not justice, but it was vengeance.

“I hope that Bud Stouffer’s passing was peaceful. I don’t see how this brings peace to anyone else. Killing a 79-year-old man is not justice,” Rev. Heath said. “What does it say about us? I’m afraid it says that we worship a God who is vengeful and wrathful, instead of a God of mercy and grace. I will continue to pray to a God of peace and justice who will heal us of our addiction to violence.”

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley tweeted after the execution, saying the “dignity of human life must never be undermined even in the case of someone who has done great evil.”

The death penalty does little to heal the wounds of grief and loss, and only perpetuates the violence we are seeking to eradicate,” Coakley added. “Oklahoma’s leaders must begin a conversation about how capital punishment aligns with our pro-life values. Please pray for the innocent victims of this crime and for the soul of the condemned.

The U.S. Supreme Court denied Stouffer’s last-ditch bid for an emergency stay of execution on Thursday morning.

Abraham Bonowitz, the Director of Death Penalty Action, told FOX 25 that he spoke with Stouffer on the phone on Wednesday. He said Stouffer is at peace with whatever the outcome turned out to be.

Gov. Kevin Stitt denied clemency for Stouffer on Dec. 3 following a recommendation from the Pardon and Parole Board to commute the sentence to life in prison without parole. Stitt said that he carefully reviewed materials presented by all sides of the case, which led to his ultimate decision to deny clemency for Stouffer.

Dozens gathered outside of the Governor’s Mansion on Wednesday evening to protest Stouffer’s execution and the death penalty. Protests continued on Thursday morning.

Stouffer was the second inmate executed in Oklahoma following a six-year moratorium on executions in the state. John Grant was executed in October.

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