Oklahoma: Anthony Sanchez executed – despite massive doubts about his guilt
On Thursday morning, the U.S. state of Oklahoma executed 44-year-old Anthony Sanchez with a lethal injection. He allegedly raped and shot a 21-year-old female student in 1996.
Sanchez was not linked to the case until eight years later and incessantly maintained his innocence. Too proud to beg for mercy, he waived a plea for clemency but demanded justice. Even Sanchez’s last words were that he was innocent and had not killed anyone.
He added that his original lawyers were “the worst lawyers in the state of Oklahoma” and that he was “sorry for anyone who has them as lawyers.” It wasn’t until a few weeks before the execution date that new lawyers and investigators were found for him, and they eventually managed to gain access to quite a few boxes of case files.
But no court, and equally Oklahoma’s governor, were willing to grant even a 60-day stay – despite extensive campaigning and action.
Doubts about Sanchez’s guilt were raised by various facts: Of more than 40 fingerprints in the victim’s car, none matched Anthony Sanchez. The police drawing of an eyewitness clearly more resembles Anthony Sanchez’s father. Alleged DNA evidence was run by a lab technician who was later fired for falsifying evidence for prosecutors in other cases. One shoe print did not match Anthony Sanchez in terms of size.
Taken together, the circumstantial evidence points more to the father, Glenn Sanchez, who took his own life in 2022. Yet DNA and fingerprints, shoe size, etc., were not matched to Glenn Sanchez. Instead, the death sentence was carried out despite the massive doubt.
As Rev. Dr. Jeff Hood, who accompanied the execution as spiritual advisor, reported afterwards, the execution did not go off without a hitch. Sanchez had pointed out that his arm was tied too tightly, so that he could not feel anything. Apparently, the blood flow was disrupted. The execution took significantly longer than usual, Hood explained, and medical personnel had to correct the intravenous lines before the state killing was successful.
No one from the victim’s family was present – the distress of Sanchez’s mother, who was with protesters outside the prison, was abundantly clear.
Anthony Sanchez, by the way, belonged to the Choctaw Native Americans, who own the land on which the prison where Oklahoma carries out its death sentences stands. The members of the Choctaw reject the death penalty, which is therefore carried out on their land against their will. (gu)