Pardon and Parole under investigation at Governor’s request
Mike Seals - March 4, 2021 9:43 am
Murder suspect was released from prison on a commuted sentence
by: Austin Breasette
OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Gov. Kevin Stitt sent the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation a letter in late February requesting an investigation into the Oklahoma State Pardon and Parole Board after an inmate they recommended for a commuted sentence allegedly murdered three people in Chickasha.
“They have failed to do their job in protecting Oklahomans,” said Brooke Burris Wofford, the cousin of Andrea Blankenship who was murdered in Chickasha.
“I do know my dad and my daughter are walking in the gates of heaven together,” said Taranzo Pye, a man who lost his father Leon Pye and his daughter Kaeos Yates after they were both murdered in Chickasha. “I can see my dad, he’s picking her up, saying, ‘C’mon, Kaeos. Come on with papa, it’s going to be OK.’”
Stitt sent the OSBI a letter saying the decision to release Lawrence Anderson, the man accused of the triple murder, “raises concerns.” He also states that information was presented to him by the board’s director and “violations of state law and/or violations of the rules of the pardon and parole board may have been committed.”
“It’s not fair,” said Grady County District Attorney Jason Hicks. “It’s not fair to this family.”
A full copy of the letter can be read below. A record obtained by KFOR that can also be seen below show that Anderson was originally denied a commutation request in mid-2019. A denial at this stage is supposed to end any other consideration. However, another application popped up in 2020 anyway. Hicks, who has charged Anderson with multiple counts, including three counts of murder in the first degree, blasted the decision after Anderson’s initial appearance in court.
“We have put politics and releasing inmates in front of public safety,” Hicks said.
The letter also included another inmate’s request to investigate as well. KFOR did reach out to Stitt’s office as well as the Pardon and Parole Boards. They both declined to comment amid an active investigation.
Meanwhile, the two families are still in mourning and still searching for answers after the brutal murders of 67-year-old Leon Pye, his four-year-old granddaughter Kaeos Yates and their 41-year-old neighbor Andrea Blankenship.
“Everyone’s still in shock,” said Haylee Blankenship, Andrea Blankenship’s daughter.
“My little soul is broken, my baby,” said Tasha Yates, the mother of Kaeos Yates.
The alleged killer is Pye’s nephew.
Anderson, 42, is a former crack dealer and has an extensive criminal past. It includes attacking and pointing a gun at his girlfriend along with multiple drug charges, including sneaking them into jail. The murders came just three weeks after he was released from prison on his commuted sentence.
“Anyone who says he had simple drug charges, that’s not correct,” Burris Wofford said.