Former victim and Oklahoma Parole Board ask OK governor for mercy for Coddington

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A former victim of James Coddington is asking Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt for mercy for Coddington, who is scheduled to be executed next Thursday. KWGS Public Radio Tulsa reports that Trisha Allen was a gas station cashier 25 years ago when Coddington accosted her with a knife. Coddington robbed the gas station and left without hurting Allen. He went on to kill Albert Hale, a friend who had refused to lend him money for drugs. Coddington was on a cocaine binge at the time.

Allen told KWGS that she had hoped to visit Coddington, but the prison denied her request because he was too close to being executed. But she has spoken to him by phone three times and says that, in one of their conversations, he taught her to slow down and think things through before acting. 

“If he taught me that in the first phone call, he can teach other people. He can still be of use alive in prison. Being dead is not going to help anybody on Earth,” she told KWGS in the interview. 

Allen’s plea to the governor comes two weeks after the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted ​3-2​ to recommend that James Coddington’s death sentence be commuted to life without parole.

The decision on whether to grant clemency rests with Gov. Kevin Stitt. 

Coddington is scheduled to be the first of 25 men the state intends to kill over the next two-and-a-half years. His execution date is August 25, with the next 24 occurring approximately once a month until December 5, 2024. 

Emma Rolls, one of Coddington’s attorneys, said in a statement after the board decision, “By voting to commute James Coddington’s death sentence, the Board has acknowledged that his case exemplifies the circumstances for which clemency exists. We urge Governor Stitt to adopt the Board’s recommendation.”

Coddington’s story is all-too-familiar. Born to alcohol and drug-addicted parents, Coddington was subjected to horrific abuse by his father from the time he was born. Now 50, he’s changed from the man who entered prison 25 years ago. 

In Coddington’s clemency petition, Rolls wrote, “Evidence of the seed of innate goodness James always possessed is buried in the records of his horrific childhood. The fact that seed flourished on death row reinforces the importance of clemency in the death penalty process. James exemplifies the principles of redemption.”

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