Oklahoma prisons chief: Minister OK’d inside death chamber

Jan 10, 2023, 10:01 PM | Updated: Jan 11, 2023, 4:10 pm

Former Oklahoma State Sen. Connie Johnson address the media before protestors deliver petitions aga...

Former Oklahoma State Sen. Connie Johnson address the media before protestors deliver petitions against the death penalty to the office of Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma Department of Corrections has reversed its position and now says it will allow The Rev. Jeffrey Hood, an anti-death penalty minister, inside the execution chamber for the upcoming execution of Scott Eizember. Eizember was convicted of killing A.J. Cantrell, 76, and his wife, Patsy Cantrell, 70, in 2003.(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma prison officials said Wednesday that they will allow an anti-death penalty minister with a history of protest-related arrests inside the execution chamber for Thursday’s lethal injection of death row inmate Scott Eizember.

Department of Corrections Director Steven Harpe said he reversed his earlier decision not to allow the Rev. Jeffrey Hood into the chamber after consulting with the family members of Eizember’s victims. They were concerned that a lawsuit Eizember had filed over the matter could further delay the execution, he said.

“The family members of the victims in this case are ready for closure, and they understand that the lawsuit challenging the decision to deny chamber access to the activist could lead to Thursday’s execution being stayed,” Harpe said in a statement. “Far too often, it is the victim and the victim’s family who are overlooked in these cases. We want to make sure their concerns are heard instead of everything being solely about the inmate.”

The Corrections Department had said Tuesday that it would not allow the Arkansas minister inside the death chamber, saying Hood could pose a security risk because of his history of anti-death penalty activism, including several arrests. Prison officials say Hood has agreed to follow strict guidelines on his actions inside the execution chamber.

As a result of the department’s reversal, Hood said he was withdrawing his federal lawsuit that sought to halt the execution until he was allowed inside the chamber.

“I count it a great honor to have fought for and secured the religious liberty of Scott Eizember and myself,” Hood said in a statement.

Eizember was convicted of killing A.J. Cantrell, 76, and his wife, Patsy Cantrell, 70, in 2003, after prosecutors say the couple returned their home to find Eizember inside keeping watch over his ex-girlfriend’s house across the street. Prosecutors say he went on to commit a series of other crimes across several other states, leading to one of Oklahoma’s largest manhunts before he was ultimately captured in Texas more than a month after the killings.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Image:The New York Giants' Willie Mays poses for a photo during baseball spring training in 1972. M...

Associated Press

Willie Mays, Giants’ electrifying ‘Say Hey Kid,’ dies at 93

Willie Mays, whose singular combination of talent, drive and exuberance made him one of baseball’s greatest players, has died. He was 93.

4 minutes ago

Image: This photo provided by the Washington Department of Ecology shows a derailed BNSF train on t...

Associated Press

Judge orders BNSF to pay Washington tribe nearly $400M for trespassing with oil trains

BNSF Railway must pay the sum to a Native American tribe in Washington after it ran 100-car trains with crude oil on the tribe's reservation.

1 day ago

Photo: In this photo provided by Tieanna Joseph Cade, an amusement park ride is shown stuck with 30...

Associated Press

Crews rescue 28 people trapped upside down high on Oregon amusement park ride

Emergency crews in Oregon rescued 28 people after they were stuck dangling upside down high on a ride at a century-old amusement park.

1 day ago

juneteenth shooting texas...

Associated Press

2 killed and 6 wounded in shooting during a Juneteenth celebration in a Texas park

A shooting in a Texas park left two people dead and six wounded, including two children, on Saturday, authorities said.

2 days ago

Photo: Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Wednesday, J...

Jack Jeffery, The Associated Press

8 Israeli soldiers killed in southern Gaza in deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months

An explosion in Gaza killed eight Israeli soldiers, the military said Saturday, making it the deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months.

3 days ago

Juanita Beach Kirkland...

Kathy McCormack and Nick Perry, The Associated Press

‘Tis the season for swimming and bacteria alerts in lakes, rivers

With summer about to start, many people flocking to their favorite swimming holes may also want to read up on bacteria warnings.

4 days ago

Oklahoma prisons chief: Minister OK’d inside death chamber