|News about Wanda Jean Allen's Death Sentence|
|Wanda's 10th circuit court appeal|
|A Sermon for Human Rights Day - Killing Wanda Jean Allen|
Just hours after Gov. Frank Keating and the U.S. Supreme Court dashed her final hopes for life, 2-time killer Wanda Jean Allen was strapped to a gurney and injected with lethal drugs tonight. Allen, 41, was pronounced dead at 9:21 p.m. at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.
Her death marked the 1st execution of a woman in Oklahoma since statehood.
She joined a murderer's row of 114 men electrocuted, hung and poisoned by the state since 1915.
"2 families were victimized by Wanda Jean Allen," Attorney General Drew Edmondson told more than 50 reporters and photographers before the execution.
"Our thoughts are with them. They have waited a dozen years for justice in this case."
Allen was condemned to die in the 1988 murder of her lesbian lover, Gloria Leathers, who was shot outside The Village police station.
"Our loved one wasn't given a choice about life," Leathers' family said in a written statement Thursday night.
"She didn't even have a chance to look Wanda in the face to ask her to spare her life. She shot her in the abdomen at a very close range on the steps of a jailhouse. That alone makes us believe she could do this again as she had already done before."
At the time of Leathers' murder, Allen was on probation after serving prison time for the 1981 manslaughter of Detra Pettus.
Pettus' mother, Delma Pettus, and sisters, Rhonda Pettus and Sherri Wilson said Allen spent 4 years in prison after their loved one "was pistol whipped and shot at point-blank range."
"The short prison stays are a part of the reason crimes are repeated," the Pettus' statement read. "It has taken 20 years and a 2nd murder in order to get the death penalty."
Allen became the 6th woman executed in the United States since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976 - and the 1st black woman executed since Ohio electrocuted Betty Jean Butler in 1954.
Allen was the 2nd of 8 Oklahoma inmates scheduled to die by lethal injection in a 4-week period.
A 9th inmate, Robert William Clayton, won a 30-day stay of execution last week after new DNA evidence was found on the eve of his scheduled death.
Allen's case drew national
attention as the Rev. Jesse Jackson and others accused Oklahoma of becoming
a "killing machine." Questions were raised about Allen's mental competency,
as Jackson made 2 trips to Oklahoma to rally on her behalf and call for
a moratorium on the death penalty in
State Corrections Department officials denied Jackson's last-minute request to witness the execution.
Jackson's name was not on the list Allen gave prison officials 2 weeks ago so he was not authorized to witness the execution, corrections spokesman Jerry Massie said.
Jackson did not travel to McAlester.
He instead joined death penalty opponents in a Thursday night protest outside the governor's mansion.
Defense attorneys claimed Allen was borderline mentally retarded and had an IQ measured at 69 in the 1970s.
Prosecutors, however, said she was a fully functioning adult who held a job, managed her finances and knew right from wrong.
"Wanda Jean Allen is not mentally retarded," Edmondson said, noting that a psychologist placed her IQ at 80 in the mid-1990s. "Her IQ is 10 points above borderline mental retardation."
When a reporter with a foreign accent asked what Allen's IQ might have been when she killed Gloria Leathers in 1988, the attorney general snapped: "She got smarter in prison?"
Allen's last chance for life was erased about 7:30 p.m. Thursday when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to intervene in her case.
A few hours earlier, the same appeal was rejected by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
"Ms. Allen has failed to substantiate her allegation of a due process violation," the Denver judges concluded 3-0, referring to her claim that an assistant attorney general used false evidence against her at her unsuccessful Dec. 15 clemency hearing.
Forty-five minutes after the 10th Circuit's decision, Keating denied a stay of execution.
Keating said the courts had pondered the case for 12 years, and that Allen had lodged 11 different appeals since her conviction.
"This is not easy because I am dealing with a fellow human being ... with a fellow Oklahoman," the governor said. "I have debated and discussed this, and now have resolved to deny the extension of 30 days.
"I care very deeply for the victims of crime. I have no use for killers, but I have a deep and abiding faith in the rule of law.
"I have to think about the woman she murdered in cold blood. I grieve for the families; I grieve for the dead. If a person takes another's life premeditated, they take their own."
By state law, the governor could not stop the execution, but he could have granted a 30-day stay and had the state Pardon and Parole Board re-examine the issues.
Keating said his only question was whether the parole board, which voted 3-1 to deny clemency, had sufficient information to make its decision.
Based on inaccurate trial testimony by Allen, Assistant Attorney General Sandy Howard told the board Allen had had received a high school diploma and completed 2 years of college. In fact, Allen dropped out of high school.
But although Allen's defense attorney knew that information was incorrect, he did not speak up, Keating said.
"Clearly, the woman knew right from wrong," Keating said.
Oklahoma City black leader Theotis Payne said Keating's decision disappointed him.
But Payne said of Keating, "I think he is a fair man. I know from visiting with him he considered all the options, and I have to accept his decision. Now I must prepare myself to stay with the family on this."
Jackson met with Keating for nearly 50 minutes this morning after the civil rights leader spent the night in the Oklahoma County jail. Jackson and 27 others were arrested Wednesday night when they trespassed across a line set up in front of the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in Oklahoma City.
24 relatives of murder victim Gloria Leathers and manslaughter victim Detra Pettus traveled to McAlester for the execution.
Many of those relatives watched the execution from behind a tinted window.
In the room in front of them, a dozen media representatives and 7 witnesses chosen by Allen viewed the execution through clear glass.
Allen's witnesses included 3 ministers - the Rev. Vernon Burris, her personal spiritual adviser; the Rev. Walter Little, pastor of Oklahoma City's Redeemer Lutheran Church; and the Rev. Robin Meyers, pastor of Oklahoma City's Mayflower Congregational Church.
Allen becomes the 32nd condemned inmate to be put to death in Oklahoma since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990; only Texas (240), Virginia (81), Florida (51), and Missouri (46) have executed more prisoners than Oklahoma in the modern death penalty era.
Allen becomes the 4th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 687th overall since America resumed executions on January 17, 1977.
(sources: The Oklahoman
& Rick Halperin)
Frank Keating, Governor of Oklahoma:
Room 212 State Capitol Bldg. Oklahoma City, OK 73105
E MAIL: email@example.com
Original Message: From: Steve Presson, W.J.A.'s attorney
Friends: At Wanda Jean's clemency hearing last month, the state lied about Jean's educational level in response to our contentions that she is mentally retarded. The state said that Jean had graduated from high school and had a junior college degree or certificate.
With documentation in hand that this information is a lie, we are taking some action, and request help from you.
Please write, call, fax, or visit the Governor's office, asking him to grant a 30 or 60 day reprieve while at the same time directing the Pardon and Parole Board to reconvene and consider Jean's clemency request in light of accurate information about her mental condition.
Add to this the fact that P&P Board Member Currie Ballard obviously did not read the clemency materials, as he said in media interviews that he saw no evidence of mental retardation (it was in his packet). Ballard told the media that he based his rejection of the mental retardation evidence on the fact that "Jean had graduated from high school and had a college degree."
It is outrageous (that the Attorney General would deceive the Board, and that the Board would rely on the deception), and the Governor should act to make sure a new hearing is held.
We have filed suit against the Pardon and Parole Board for not giving us a fair hearing. A hearing on our emergency request for a stay of execution will be held next week in Oklahoma City, the day before the execution. It is likely the judge will deny our request, so we have lodged our papers in the 10th Circuit.
Hopefully we can get some
action from the circuit on what is going to be a minimal amount of due process
in a death penalty clemency hearing.
Surely the state telling lies to the Board cannot be fair or due process.
The circuit and the Supreme Court have never defined what level of due process is necessary for clemency actions.
Anyway, keep us in your thoughts
and prayers. We are prayerful for Mark, Jim, and Annie Fowler,
for Eddie Trice, Floyd Medlock, Dion Smallwood, Billy Fox, Loyd LaFevers,
D.L. Jones, their families, their attorneys, their loved ones, and for this
wonderful support community. Thank you.
sp (Steve Presson)
Scheduled execution of Wanda Jean Allen who is
mentally impaired prompts national call to action
The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (NCADP) today announced the formation of a united front of concerned organizations working to halt the execution of Wanda Jean Allen, one of nine prisonersslated for death in the state of Oklahoma in the first four weeks of 2001.
Unless Oklahoma authorities intervene, Ms. Allen will become the first woman executed in the state in nearly a century and the first African American woman to be put to death in the United States during the modern era.
"The case of Wanda Jean Allen is a tragic example of the glaring flaws in the Oklahoma death penalty process", NCADP director Steve Hawkins said. "At a time of mounting questions about the fairness and reliability of the death penalty nationwide, Oklahoma is embarking on an unprecedented and intolerable killing spree," Mr. Hawkins added.
Organizations that have
joined the call include: Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty,
Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, American Friends Service Committee, Equal Justice/USA,
Amnesty International, ACLU, Faithworks Worldwide, Clergy Coalition to End
Executions, The National Gay andLesbian Task Force, International Gay and
Lesbian Human Rights
Commission, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Youth Advocacy Coalition, National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, Oklahoma Lambda Intercollegiate Coalition and the University of Oklahoma Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Friends.
"Anyone who doubts that
the death penalty is administered unjustly should take a close look at Wanda
Jean Allen's case," said Michael Adams,Associate Director of the ACLU Lesbian
and Gay Rights Project. "We've had a number of cases where people's sexual
been a factor in sentencing them to die -- including people who are now on death row in Texas and Missouri."
Case background: Wanda
Jean Allen is scheduled to be executed in Oklahoma on January 11, 2001.
She was sentenced to death in 1989 for killing her lover, Gloria Leathers
in Oklahoma City in 1988. Her clemency hearing before the state Pardon and
Parole Board is due to
take place on December 15th. During her time on death row, she has reportedly become a devout Christian. She recently met with the mother of her victim, who forgave her for the offense.
The two women, who had
met in prison, had been in a tumultuous relationship for two years. Each
had called the police to their home on more than one occasion after a domestic
dispute. On the afternoon of December 1, 1988, the couple got into an argument
at a local
grocery store. The argument continued at their home and culminated outside a police station. Allen maintained she had acted in self-defense, claiming that Leathers had struck her in the face with a hand rake during the confrontation at the house, and that outside the police station Leathers had again come at her with the rake. Allen shot Leathers, who died four days later on December 5, 1988. The wounds to Allen's face from the rake were still visible on
December 6, when she was photographed in jail.
Wanda's trial attorney
was forced to represent her for a total of $800. Allen's family approached
Bob Carpenter to handle the case. Believing that it was not a capital case
he agreed to represent Wanda for $5,000. The family made an initial payment
of $800. The State then
charged Wanda with first-degree murder and announced it would seek the death penalty. Mr. Carpenter who had never tried a capital murder case asked the judge to allow him to withdraw when he learned that the family could not pay the $4,200 balance that would have allowed him to have the resources to pay for an investigator, experts, etc. He offered to act as co-counsel for free if a public defender was appointed as lead counsel. The prosecution opposed his motion and the court refused to allow him to withdraw.
No evidence of Wanda's
mental impairments was presented during her trial. In a 1991 affidavit,
Bob Carpenter stated that it was not until after the trial that he learned
when Wanda was 15 years-old her IQ had been measured at 69 and that the doctor
who examined her had
recommended a neurological assessment because she manifested symptoms of brain damage. Carpenter stated, "I did not search for any medical or psychological records or seek expert assistance" for use at the trial.
A psychologist conducted a comprehensive evaluation of Wanda in 1995 and found "clear and convincing evidence of cognitive and sensory-motor deficits and brain dysfunction" possibly linked to an adolescent head injury. At the age of 12, Allen had been hit by a truck and knocked unconscious, and at 14 or 15 she had been stabbed in the left temple. He found "particularly significant hemisphere dysfunction" impairing "her comprehension, her ability to logically express herself, her ability to analyze cause and effect relationships." He also concluded that Allen was "more chronically vulnerable than others to becoming disorganized by everyday stresses-- and thus more vulnerable to a loss of control under stress."
Wanda's sexual orientation
was exploited during her trial. One of the prosecutor's main tactics during
the trial was to rely on negative stereotypes of lesbians and convince the
jury that Wanda Jean was dominant and intimidated Leathers. Prosecutors in
other capital cases
have frequently used this method to criminalize lesbians and portray them as man-hating, overly aggressive, and capable of committing murder. This sort of bias portrays lesbians as more dangerous than a heterosexual woman accused of the same crime.
"It didn't make either of us less human than if we were in a heterosexual relationship, a bisexual relationship. We are still human. We have emotions. We laugh. We cry. It was part of our life," Wanda stated in reference to her sexual orientation.
Since the United States resumed executions in 1977 five women have been
executed: Velma Barfield (North Carolina, 1984); Karla Fay Tucker (Texas,
1998); July Buenoano (Florida, 1998), Betty Lou Beets (Texas, 2000) and Christina
Riggs (Arkansas, 2000).
The last African American woman to be put to death in the United States was reportedly Betty Butler in Ohio in 1954. The last woman to be executed in Oklahoma was Dora Wright, also African-American, hung in 1903.
Oklahoma and the Death
Penalty: Oklahoma has emerged as a leader in US executions, this year it
has the highest per capita execution rate in the US (currently about twice
as high as the rate in Texas). This trend looks very likely to continue in
2001, as Oklahoma has scheduled
the executions of eight persons in January. Only Texas, with a population roughly 6 times that of Oklahoma, has executed 8 people in a single month since the resumption of capital punishment in America in 1976. Texas did this twice -- in both May and June of 1997.
On a per capita basis Oklahoma will execute more people in January than Texas has executed in any year since the resumption of capital punishment. In addition to our high execution rate, Oklahoma also has the 3rd largest death row per capita and the 2nd highest per capita release rate of innocent persons from death row.
Oklahoma has also executed men who were mentally ill, mentally incompetent and arguably innocent. Oklahoma is the only state to have executed someone for crimes committed at 16 (Sean Sellers) in the past 40 years.
Scheduled Oklahoma Executions:
1/4/01 Robert William "Eagle" Clayton
1/9/01 Eddie Trice
1/11/01 Wanda Jean Allen (female)
1/16/01 Floyd Allen Medlock
1/18/01 Dion Smallwood
1/23/01 Mark Fowler
1/25/01 Billy Ray Fox
1/30/01 Lloyd Winford Lafevers
2/1/01 D.L. Jones, Jr.
Call to action: "We are
calling all organizations that believe in
justice and fairness to speak out," said Tonya McClary, NCADP Program
Director, "Appeal to your constituents to send a fax or letter to the
Oklahoma Board of Pardon and Parole Board asking that they recommend
to Governor Frank Keating that he grant Wanda Jean Allen clemency."
Pardon & Parole Board, 4040 North Lincoln, Suite 219, Oklahoma City,
OK 73105. FAX 405-427-6648.
Events in Oklahoma:
Sunday, December 10
10:30 a.m.-Sermon for Wanda Jean
At the Mayflower Congregational Church, NW 63rd & Portland, Oklahoma
City, Dr. Robin Myers will preach a sermon on why Oklahoma should not
execute Wanda Jean Allen. (Dr. Myers will also be presenting Wanda
Jean Allen's case at her clemency hearing on December 15th)
4:00 p.m. until Midnight-
Benefit concert for the Oklahoma Coalition
to Abolish the Death Penalty. Local bands will perform, and speakers
will include, an attorney for Wanda Jean, three wrongfully convicted
people sent to death row and family members of both death row
prisoners and victims. The Firehouse 745 Asp Street, Norman, Oklahoma
Friday, December 15
10:00 am Press Conference (location TBA), Lexington, Oklahoma
12:00 noon "Clemency Gathering,"
at the gates of the Lexington
Correctional Center (Directly south of Oklahoma City on I-35, at
Purcell exit travel east on SH39)
1:00 p.m. Wanda Jean Allen's
At the Lexington Correctional Center. Wanda Jean will appear.
ABOVE PRESS RELEASE FROM:
The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
1436 U Street, NW Suite 104 Washington, DC 20009
For immediate release: December 8, 2000
For more information contact:
Tonya McClary (202) 387-3890 x17 firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Pomer (310) 463-7025 (cell) email@example.com
Amnesty International Execution Alert
Death penalty / Legal concern 17 November 2000
USA (Oklahoma) Wanda Jean Allen (f), black, aged 41
Wanda Jean Allen is scheduled
to be executed in Oklahoma on 11 January 2001.
She was sentenced to death in 1989 for killing her lover, Gloria Leathers, in
Oklahoma City in 1988. Her clemency hearing before the state Pardon and
Parole Board is due to take place on 15 December.
The two women, who had
met in prison, had a turbulent relationship; each had
called the police to their home on more than one occasion after a domestic
dispute. Gloria Leathers? death followed a protracted argument between the
couple which began at a local shop, continued at their home, and culminated
outside a police station. Allen maintained she had acted in self-defence,
claiming that Leathers had struck her in the face with a hand rake during the
confrontation at the house, and that outside the police station Leathers had
again come at her with the rake. Allen shot Leathers, who died four days
later on 5 December 1988. The wound to Allen?s face from the rake was still
visible on 6 December, when she was photographed in jail.
Allen?s family approached
a lawyer known to them. Believing that this was not
a capital case, he agreed to take it for a fee of $5,000. The family made an
initial payment of $800. The state then charged Wanda Jean Allen with
first-degree murder and announced that it would seek the death penalty. The
lawyer asked the judge to allow him to withdraw from the case on the grounds
that he did not have the resources to represent a capital defendant. He had
learned that the family was unable to pay for an investigator or any other
expert to aid in the defence, and that they could not pay him the remaining
$4,200 either. He offered to act as co-counsel, for free, if a public
defender was appointed as lead counsel. The prosecution opposed the lawyer?s
motion, and the court refused to allow him to withdraw. He was therefore
forced to defend Wanda Jean Allen on a total payment of $800, with no
co-counsel, no investigator and no resources to hire expert witnesses.
Furthermore, this was his first capital case.
Evidence that Leathers
had a history of violent conduct, and that she had
stabbed a woman to death in Tulsa in 1979, was central to the self-defence
argument at Allen's trial. Allen testified that she feared Leathers because
she had boasted to her about the killing. The defence sought to corroborate
this claim with testimony from Leathers' mother, whom Leathers had told about
the stabbing. However, the prosecution objected, and the court prohibited the
introduction of any such testimony. Although the state knew about the Tulsa
stabbing, the prosecutor told the jury. Regardless of how many times [the
defence] tells you that Gloria Leathers... killed someone... that?s just from
the defendant's mouth alone that you heard that testimony. Please remember
that, from the defendant's mouth alone that you heard that testimony.? The
prosecutor had already depicted Allen as a remorseless liar. For example,
noting that Allen had cried throughout the trial, the prosecutor suggested to
the jury that her crying was insincere and a further sign that she was lying.
In a 1991 affidavit, the
defence lawyer stated that after the trial he had
learned that when Allen was 15 years old, her IQ had been measured at 69, and
that the doctor who examined her had recommended a neurological assessment
because she manifested symptoms of brain damage. The lawyer stated I did not
search for any medical or psychological records or seek expert assistance?
for use at the trial.
A psychologist conducted
a comprehensive evaluation of Wanda Jean Allen in
1995 and found clear and convincing evidence of cognitive and sensori-motor
deficits and brain dysfunction possibly linked to an adolescent head injury.
At the age of 12, Allen had been hit by a truck and knocked unconscious, and
at 14 or 15 she had been stabbed in the left temple. He found that Allen?s
intellectual abilities are markedly impaired?, and that her IQ was 80. He
found particularly significant left hemisphere dysfunction?, impairing her
comprehension, her ability to logically express herself, her ability to
analyse cause and effect relationships... He also concluded that Allen was
?more chronically vulnerable than others to becoming disorganized by everyday
stresses - and thus more vulnerable to a loss of control under stress?.
Since the USA resumed
executions in 1977, 677 prisoners have been put to
death, including five women: Velma Barfield (North Carolina, 1984); Karla
Faye Tucker (Texas, 1998); Judy Buenoano (Florida, 1998), Betty Lou Beets
(Texas, 2000) and Christina Riggs (Arkansas, 2000). The last African American
woman put to death in the USA was reportedly Betty Butler in Ohio in 1954.
The last woman to be executed in Oklahoma was Dora Wright in 1903.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please
send faxes/express/airmail letters in English or
your own language, in your own words, using the following guidelines:
- expressing sympathy for the family and friends of Gloria Leathers, and
explaining that you are not seeking to condone the way she died;
- expressing concern that Wanda Jean Allen?s trial lawyer did not have the
resources, investigative or expert, to be able to adequately represent a
capital defendant at either the conviction or sentencing stage;
- noting that the jury heard no evidence about Wanda Jean Allen?s significant
mental impairments, as revealed in post-conviction evaluations, and that such
evidence was relevant to culpability and as mitigation;
- pointing out that the execution of the mentally impaired and those denied
adequate legal representation contravenes international standards;
- (before 15 December) urging the Board to recommend that the governor grant
- (after 15 December) appealing to the governor to do all in his power and
influence to stop this execution.
arrive before 15 December:
Pardon and Parole Board
4040 North Lincoln, Suite 219, Oklahoma City, OK 73105, USA
Fax: + 1 405 427 6648
Salutation: Dear Board Members
Governor Frank Keating
Capitol Building, Oklahoma City, OK 73105, USA
Fax: + 1 405 521 3353
Salutation: Dear Governor
COPIES TO: diplomatic representatives of USA accredited to your country.
SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force today joined other progressive gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) groups in calling on Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating to grant clemency to Wanda Jean Allen, scheduled to to be executed on Jan. 11.
After 2 years of being
involved in a violent relationship, Allen, an African-American lesbian,
admitted to shooting her partner, Gloria Leathers, on Dec. 1, 1989 just outside
Oklahoma City. NGLTF is calling upon Gov. Keating to grant clemency to Allen
both because of the
organization's opposition to the death penalty and because of questions that have been raised regarding whether Allen received a fair trial.
Allen's attorney failed
to investigate fully Allen's background showing that she has an IQ of 80
and has neurological problems that cause her to lose control in stressful
situations - factors that were not introduced into court. In addition, according
to a review of court records,
prosecutors attempted to use Allen's sexual orientation and relationship with her partner to prejudice the jury against her.
The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, which makes recommendations concerning clemency to Gov. Frank Keating, is scheduled to hear Allen's request for clemency on Dec. 15. If granted clemency, Allen would serve a life sentence in the Oklahoma State prison system.
Joining NGLTF in calling upon Gov. Keating to grant clemency to Allen are the ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Astraea Lesbian Action Foundation, Gay Men of African Descent, the National Youth Advocacy Coalition, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, the Oklahoma Lambda Intercollegiate Coalition and the University of Oklahoma Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Friends.
"The death penalty is wrong in all instances," said NGLTF Executive Director Elizabeth Toledo. "Its inherent injustice is compounded when the condemned person has a history of mental impairment and when this information is not presented to the jury. In opposing the execution of Wanda Jean Allen, we are mindful of the fact that criminal justice issues as well as issues surrounding domestic violence are important to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. Our view of social justice demands equality for GLBT people, but it also demands a criminal justice system that treats all people with respect and dignity."
"Anyone who doubts that the death penalty is administered unjustly should take a close look at Wanda Jean Allen's case," said Michael Adams, Associate Director of the ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. "We've had a number of cases where people's sexual orientation has been a factor in sentencing them to die - including people who are now on death row in Texas and Missouri.
Just as the death penalty is applied selectively to people of color and low-income people, it is also used against lesbian and gay people. It's unconscionable - and it's also unconstitutional."
"Given the history of racial inequity in its application, Gay Men of African Descent opposes the death penalty," said Kevin McGruder, GMAD's executive director. "Wanda Jean Allen was convicted of taking the life of her partner. If we as a society truly believe that taking a person's life is wrong, then we should not condone the State taking a person's life."
"The death penalty is
a human rights violation in all cases," said Surina Khan, executive director
of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. "As we approach
the 10th of December, International Human Rights Day, we urge Gov. Keating
to grant clemency in Ms. Allen's case and to publicly commit himself to
the abolition of the death penalty in
"There is a disturbing and all too common trend in the U.S. to execute people who are mentally challenged, poor and/or who are of color," said Craig Bowman, executive director of National Youth Advocacy Coalition. "Wanda Jean Allen's case sadly typifies our most vulnerable citizens and the quality of legal representation and treatment they can expect to receive by our oppressive justice system. Certain states' fervent rush to murder citizens is as heinous and immoral as the alleged acts of those criminals sentenced to death. Capital punishment has no place in a civil and just society; the majority of our industrialized Western peers understand this indisputable fact, when will America?"
"As Anti-Violence Programs
that deal day-to-day with the physical and psychological brutality of violence,
we find ourselves not only serving the victims of violence, but also acting
as advocates for human rights at their most basic level," said Richard Haymes
of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs and the New York City
Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project. "Capital punishment fundamentally
highlights our struggle for human justice - an act of state-sanctioned violence
in the form of the death penalty is no more or less violent than the barbaric
acts of attackers. We oppose violence in every form, regardless of the perpetrator.
Our community's thirst for justice in any context must not obscure the fact
that the death penalty is wrong. First, the history of our criminal justice
system is riddled with scores of cases of innocent people being wrongly executed.
Second, the death penalty is meted out
unfairly, and racism, classism and even homophobia overwhelmingly play a role in the judicial decision to invoke it. Third, the death penalty is, in our view, 'cruel and unusual' punishment, and violates the 50-year old Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the United States
co-authored. And finally, state-sanctioned lethal violence is against our missions as organizations working towards a fair and just society."
"We know that our government
has made grave mistakes throughout history in its unequal treatment of minority
groups," said Kent Doss, spokesman for the Board of the Oklahoma Lambda Intercollegiate
Coalition. "Unfortunately, we see the trend continued today in the case
of Wanda Jean Allen and her lack of access to a fair trial. Please join with
Oklahoma Lambda Intercollegiate Coalition and other concerned groups:
vocalize your concerns to Governor Frank Keating or the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board and let them know that this blatant injustice is unacceptable."
"The University of Oklahoma Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered and Friends (GLBTF) urges Governor Keating to grant clemency to Wanda Jean Allen," said Amanda Bowles, co-chair of University of Oklahoma GLBTF. "We oppose the unfair enforcement of the death penalty against persons of color and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons as well as other marginalized groups. We believe that Allen was convicted based on biased evidence and stereotypical views of lesbians. Thus, we support the position of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and other progressive GLBT organizations and encourage our members and members of the surrounding community to contact Governor Keating and the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board."
In February 1999, eleven
major GLBT organizations -- many of the same organizations that are calling
on Gov. Keating to grant clemency issued a joint statement in opposition
to capital punishment as prosecutors in Wyoming were considering seeking
the death penalty for the accused murderers of Matthew Shepard
To reach the NGLTF Communications
Department at NGLTF, please call David
Elliot, Communications Director, at 202-332-6483 x3303 or pager 800-757- 6476
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact: Eric Ferrero,
ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project, 212-549-2568
Kevin McGruder, Gay Men of African Descent, 212-414-9344, ext. 12
Sydney Levy, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, 415-255-8680
Clarence Patton, National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs/
New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violent Project, 212-714-1184
David Elliot, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 202-332-6483, ext. 3303
Craig Bowman, National Youth Advocacy Coalition, 202-319-7596
Kent Doss, Oklahoma Lambda Intercollegiate Coalition, 504-906-5368
Amanda Bowles, University of Oklahoma Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered,
and Friends, 504-325-4452
1700 Kalorama Road NW, Washington, DC
Leathers and Allen had numerous altercations
during the years they lived
together in Oklahoma City, with several police reports filed. On December
1, 1988 they had another at a grocery store, believed to be over money,
and Leathers determined to leave their shared home. Leathers went to the
house with her mother and a police escort to collect her belongings, but
the police officer was called away. Leathers headed for the police
station, but Allen followed and shot her through the side as she got out
of her car. Leathers' mother said Leathers had intended to file a
complaint against Allen for stealing some clothes, and that before firing
the gun Allen had said, "If I can't have you, nobody can." Allen fled the
scene but was arrested December 5, 1988 in Duncan, Oklahoma; Leathers
died of the gunshot wound that same day.
Allen's April 1989 trial progressed quickly.
A police officer was among
the witnesses, and police reported that Leathers identified Allen as the
shooter before she died. Allen claimed she acted in self-defense but no
witness confirmed any attack by Leathers. Helping to convict Allen of
first-degree murder instead of manslaughter was a letter she'd written to
Leathers saying, "You're not only in my prayers, you're also in most of
my confessions. You're everything I ever wanted. I'm very happy with your
love. You're my everything. P.S. I'm the type of person who will hunt
someone down I love and kill them. Do I make myself clear, Gloria?"
The prosecution also likened the Leathers
shooting to that of Pettus in
1981. Allen shot Pettus in a grocery store parking lot in connection with
an argument. Prosecutors said that in both cases Allen had concealed a
firearm under her clothing and then said she didn't know how it went off.
It was while serving time for Pettus' death that Allen met Leathers in
1982. Allen was paroled after four years and was still subject to the
terms of parole when she shot Leathers.
One of the prosecutors in the Leathers
case remains convinced that Allen
would have killed any future lovers who angered her.
Steve Presson, one of two attorneys handling
Allen's appeal, told the
Tulsa World that, "We thought that this was a horrendous constitutional
violation in the denial of effective counsel for her. In this case, the
state district court forced her to be represented by an attorney not
being paid and then forced the attorney to trial without giving him the
tools -- no experts, doctors or investigators. No one discovered she was
borderline mentally retarded until the trial and appeals were over. By
that time, it is too late." No appeals court agreed, up to and including
the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to review a unanimous decision by
the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Presson will seek a hearing
before the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole board.
In a profile for the Oklahoma Coalition
to Abolish the Death Penalty,
Allen described herself as a family person, with interests in reading,
art and jazz, who likes to play tennis, golf and basketball. She
identifies as a Baptist.
|News about Wanda Jean Allen's Death Sentence|
|Wanda's 10th circuit court appeal|
|A Sermon for Human Rights Day - Killing Wanda Jean Allen|