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44-year-old Oklahoma man executed for 1996 rape and murder of ballerina – ‘I’m innocent’ he says

In Oklahoma An inmate was executed Thursday for the 1996 slaying of a City University dance student in a case that went unsolved for years until the DNA from the crime scene was identified as that of a man serving a sentence imprisonment for burglary. Anthony Sanchez, 44, was killed at 10:19 a.m. after injecting three drugs at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.

Although he maintained that he had nothing to do with her murder of 21-year-old Juli Busken, took the unusual step of not submitting a clemency petition to the state Board of Pardons and Paroles, which many saw as his last chance to spare his life. “I’m innocent,” Sanchez said as he was strapped into the death chamber. “I didn’t kill anyone.”

Sanchez criticized his former lawyers and thanked his supporters, including his spiritual adviser who was with him in the courtroom and the anti- death penalty, Death Penalty Action. The deadly drugs, starting with the sedative midazolam, were administered at approximately 10:08 A.M. At one point during the execution, a member of the execution team entered the chamber and reinstalled an oxygen monitor that prison officials said had malfunctioned during the process. Shortly before he was sentenced to death, the US Supreme Court rejected a request for a stay of execution made by his new lawyer, Eric Allen of Columbus, Ohio.

Allen had said he needed more time to review the evidence in the case. Sanchez was convicted of the rape and murder of 21-year-old Julie Basken, a woman from Benton, Arkansas, who had just finished her last semester of college when she was abducted on December 20, 1996, from the parking lot of her Norman apartment complex.

The corpse she was found that night near Lake Stanley Draper in southeast Oklahoma City. She had been tied up, raped and shot in the head. Busken had performed as a ballerina in many dance productions and was honored on campus with a dance scholarship in her name at the College of Fine Arts. Years later, Sanchez was serving time for a burglary conviction when DNA from semen on Busken’s clothes at the crime scene was matched to him. He was sentenced to death in 2006.

No one from the family of the unfortunate girl was present at the execution. “Julie was murdered 26 years, nine months and one day ago. The family has found the truth and peace,” said the Prosecutor. Sanchez has long maintained his innocence and did so again in a phone call with The Associated Press earlier this year from death row. “This is engineered DNA. This is fake DNA. This is not my DNA. I’ve been saying this since day one,” he had said.

As for why he didn’t ask for a pardon, he told the AP: “I’ve sat in my cell and watched one prisoner after another ask for pardon and not get it. Either way, this is not going well for the prisoners.”

For his part, the Prosecutor argued that the DNA evidence unequivocally links Sanchez to Basken’s murder. A sample of Sanchez’s DNA “was identical to the profiles developed from the semen on the girl’s underwear and bodysuit,” the prosecutor wrote last month in a letter to a state representative who had inquired about Sanchez’s conviction.

“There is no doubt”

“There is no doubt that he was this brutal rapist and murderer who deserves the state’s harshest punishment,” the District Attorney said.A private investigator hired by an anti-death penalty group argued that DNA evidence may have been tainted and that a inexperienced lab technician did not convey the evidence to the jury properly. Former Cleveland County District Attorney Tim Kuykendall, who was the county’s chief prosecutor when Sanchez was tried, said that while DNA evidence was the most persuasive in the trial, there was other evidence linking Sanchez to the killing, including ballistics evidence and a shoe print found at the crime scene.

“I know because I’ve spent a lot of time on this case, there’s not a single piece of evidence that points to anyone other than Anthony Sanchez,” the prosecutor said. “I don’t care if a hundred people or a thousand people confess to killing Julie.”

Concerns about execution methods

Sanchez is the third inmate to be put to death in Oklahoma this year and the 10th since the state resumed executions in 2021, ending a six-year moratorium prompted by concerns about execution methods.

The state had one of the nation’s busiest death chambers until problems arose in 2014 and 2015. Richard Glossip was just hours away from his execution in September 2015 when prison officials realized they had been given the wrong lethal drug. It later emerged that the same wrong drug had been used to execute a prisoner in January 2015.

Oklahoma’s next scheduled execution is Nov. 30, when Philip Hancock will be given a lethal injection for the 2001 murders of two men in Oklahoma City.

Source: News Beast

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