Oklahoma to See String of Executions in 2023 Starting With Eizember

KTUL - January 4, 2023 6:25 am

FILE - In this Nov. 2005, file photo is the witness room that adjoins the death chamber at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio. An Associated Press survey of the nation's 32 death penalty states found that the vast majority refuse to disclose the source of their execution drugs. While Ohio has been open about drugs purchased for executions, those cloaked in secrecy include states with some of the most active death chambers _ Texas, Florida, Oklahoma and Missouri among them. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)

Next Thursday, Oklahoma will see its first execution of 2023 and it definitely won’t be the last.

Following the execution of death row inmate Scott Eizember on January 12, the state has an execution planned for nearly every month this year.

Scott Eizember will be executed nearly 20 years since his conviction for killing a Depew couple.

Prosecutors allege that back in 2003, Eizember was lying in wait in A.J. and Patsy Cantrell’s home in Depew, Okla., for his ex-girlfriend, Kathryn Smith, who lived across the street.

That’s when prosecutors say a confrontation took place between Eizember and the couple before he shot and killed them.

He then attacked Smith’s mother and son while waiting to ambush Smith, prosecutors say, before speeding out of town in a stolen vehicle. After a manhunt that lasted more than a month, Eizember was found and taken into custody.

“I can hear them checking all the little buildings and checking the trucks and the painted trucks,” said Eizember at the time of his arrest, regarding how close authorities were to finding him. “[The officer] is just walking away like he’s got blinders on. He didn’t even see me there.”

Eizember has spent all the time since on Oklahoma’s death row. Last December, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board denied his request for clemency in a 3-2 vote.

Eizember’s attorneys did not deny his involvement in the Oct. 18, 2003 killings of the Cantrells, but argued to the panel that the killings were unplanned and spontaneous and that his life still has value.

“He was doing something wrong, illegal, felonious,” said one of Eizember’s attorneys Mark Henrickson. “But that it was an unplanned episode and then it cascaded into a fight or flight syndrome.”

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals has scheduled an execution nearly every month of 2023 and 2024. At least 10 executions, including Eizember’s, are scheduled for 2023. Nine executions are scheduled for 2024.

Both Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor and Oklahoma House Speaker Pro Tempore Kyle Gilbert have criticized attempts to make light of Eizember’s crimes for the sake of saving a life. Both of their statements regarding the denial of clemency for Eizember are as follows:

Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor:

“Although they were both in their seventies, with multiple health problems each, the couple looked forward to living their golden years ‘filled with joy and wonder.’ However, they were robbed of that chance on October 18, 2003, when Scott Eizember murdered them in their own home. After holding the Cantrells captive for hours, Eizember shot Mrs. Cantrell and repeatedly bludgeoned Mr. Cantrell in the head with the same shotgun. Eizember then made himself a snack and drank and sat in the house, unbothered, as A.J. and Patsy languished and died. Ultimately, an Oklahoma jury decided that death was the only just and appropriate punishment for the horrific murder of Mr. Cantrell. The conviction and sentence were affirmed after years of thorough reviews by the appellate courts. Eizember also received a sentence of 150 years for the murder of Mrs. Cantrell. The Pardon and Parole Board made the correct decision in denying Eizember’s request for executive clemency. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Cantrell family.”

Oklahoma House Speaker Pro Tempore Kyle Gilbert:

“For those of us who live and grew up in Creek County, we all remember where we were and what we were doing on October 18, 2003, when our entire world was turned upside down by the horrific crimes committed against Eizember’s victims. For weeks we lived on edge as Eizember was on the run. The terror he inflicted back then reverberates even today.”


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