Oklahoma executes man who killed couple while stalking ex-girlfriend

By The Associated Press via NBC News

Oklahoma executed a man convicted of killing an elderly couple and other crimes 20 years ago Thursday, before authorities caught him in Texas after a bizarre manhunt.

Scott James Eizember, 62, received a lethal injection at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester and was pronounced dead at 10:15 a.m.

“I am at peace,” Eizember proclaimed, strapped to a gurney with an IV in his left arm. “I have a clear conscience, completely. I love my children, ”he assured.

In this Feb. 2, 2018 file photo released by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, Scott James Eizember.
AP

Once the lethal drugs began to flow, Eizember, who had a neatly trimmed beard, could be seen chatting with his spiritual advisor, the Rev. Jeffrey Hood, who was inside the execution chamber with him. At one point, he raised his head and said “I love you,” looking at her daughter and her lawyers, who were among the 17 people sitting in the witness room.

Eizember began wheezing and was pronounced unconscious at 10:07. He appeared to stop breathing at 10:10 a.m. and was pronounced dead five minutes later.

His lawyers have never denied that he killed AJ Cantrell, 76, and his wife, Patsy Cantrell, 70, on October 18, 2003. But they told the state Board of Pardons and Paroles last month that the murders were not not planned, but occurred spontaneously, and that his life still had value.

The panel voted 3-2 against recommending his clemency.

[La escuela de Virginia donde un niño de 6 años disparó a su maestra anuncia que instalará detectores de metales]

“He has felt remorse every day of his imprisonment. There is no reason to kill him next month other than revenge ”, alleged one of his lawyers, Mark Henricksen.

Following the execution, several members of the Cantrells spoke of the pain the family has endured and expressed concern about the length of time it has taken Eizember to be executed.

“After living through this nightmare, I have to say that 20 years is too long for justice to be served,” Johnny Melton, the slain couple’s nephew, said in a statement read on behalf of the family. “We want to get it right and we absolutely want to ensure everyone’s rights are protected, but the process is too slow.”

Melton also stressed the importance of addressing domestic violence and improving mental health treatment, both in the state of Oklahoma and across the country.

“I know this is going to be a controversial statement, but I think it’s a fact. It is the abuser who needs help. They need it when they are young,” Melton said. “By the time the victim needs help, it’s already too late,” he stressed, referring to Eizember’s past.

a long chase

The prosecution alleged that Eizember broke into the Cantrells’ home in Depew, Oklahoma, after seeing them leave so he could harass his ex-girlfriend, Kathryn Smith, who lived across the street. When the couple returned home unexpectedly, the man shot and killed Patsy Cantrell with a shotgun he found inside the home and then bludgeoned AJ Cantrell to death with the weapon, according to prosecutors.

Eizember was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death for killing AJ Cantrell and convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to 150 years in prison for killing Patsy Cantrell. His lawyers had argued that Patsy Cantrell was shot to death as he and AJ Cantrell struggled over the shotgun.

[Este expolicía contrató a dos sicarios para matar a su esposa. Texas lo castigó con la inyección letal]

After killing the couple, Eizember walked across the street and into Smith’s home, shooting his son in the back and attacking his mother, according to prosecutors. Both survived and, according to authorities, Eizember ended up fleeing the city in a stolen vehicle.

Police believe he hid in wooded areas around the cities of Depew and Bristow for more than 30 days while he was wanted in a major sting.

“I was not afraid to kill again,” Assistant Attorney General Tessa Henry told the pardon board.

Eizember arrived in Arkansas in a stolen car and kidnapped a doctor and his wife at gunpoint, according to prosecutors. Driving with the couple to Texas, he was eventually captured near the town of Lufkin, after the doctor pulled out a gun hidden in the couple’s van and shot Eizember four times.

In December 2005, a federal jury in Arkansas convicted Eizember of two counts of kidnapping, one count of carjacking and one count of use of a firearm in a violent crime. In that case he was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison.

Eizember filed a last-minute demand to have his spiritual adviser accompany him in the death chamber during his execution, after the Department of Corrections rejected the minister over Hood’s record of anti-death penalty activism, which included arrests. On Wednesday, the Department of Corrections reversed its decision, citing the Cantrell family’s concern that Thursday’s execution could be stayed.

[Un reo intenta escapar de una prisión en Sonora, México]

The US Supreme Court ruled last year that states must honor the wishes of death row inmates who want their pastors to pray aloud and even touch them during their executions.

Oklahoma uses a three-drug lethal injection method that begins with the sedative midazolam, which renders the person unconscious, followed by a paralytic, vecuronium bromide, and finally potassium chloride, which stops the heart.

Eizember’s execution was the eighth in Oklahoma since the state resumed it in 2021.

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