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A Plea for Clemency

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A Plea for Clemency

Filed by Michael Cross in Feature, Local News, News.
April 2, 2012

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The Oklahoma Coalition Against the Death Penalty is asking the Governor to commute the death penalty for a mentally-ill man set for execution next week.

The organization says 56-year-old Garry Allen was mentally-impaired when he shot and killed Lawanna Titsworth in 1986.

Wellston United Methodist Minister Adam Leathers says he sees similarities between modern day executions and one held 2,000 years ago.

“When we as a society call out execute him, how similar we are to a crowd that once cried out crucify him. When our leaders say it’s out of their hands to do anything about it how similar that is to a roman governor who once washed his hands of the situation.”

In 2005, the Pardon and Parole Board recommended commuting the sentence to life without parole, but Fallin rejected that and ordered his execution on April 12th.

18 Responses to “A Plea for Clemency”

  1. Carolyn Leopard says:

    What is required for you to give mercy to this man? If he were you brother, your father, your mother, your sister would you view him differently? Please forget politics and the effect your decision will make on your political future. He is a living creature lacking the ability to make the correct decisions that you and I can make. He lacked the mental ability to make the correct decision. You do not. It is wrong to take the life of another person. Please do the right thing.

    • Gerri Michalska says:

      Ms. Leopard,
      I must tell you how much I appreciate your compassion and loving heart. You are so right: If we would only think of the other as though he/she were our father/mother, brother/sister or son/daughter.

      Let us spread our love, Carolyn. all the best.

  2. Thomas Rykala says:

    From all sources that resulted in the death penalty for Mr. Allen, I deduce that mental illness is not relevant in consderation of clemency. Mr. Allen drank heavily on the day before the murder, however on that day was fully aware and in charge of his faculties and enagged in fully premeditated behaviors that resulted in the death of Ms. Titsworth.

    Mental illness, absent any psychotic features, is not an excuse for violence; in other words, there is no predicitve value of violence in mental illness, especially since alcohol was involved the day prior.

    Bottom line – Mr. Allen was sane and fully comprehended the consequences of his actions as shown in his premeditated behavior toward Ms. Titsworth.

    The case for clemency misses the mark here if it only is driven by arguing mental illness, basis of which are not supported by objective analysis.

  3. Gerri Michalska says:

    predicitive??? What is that??

  4. Gerri Michalska says:

    The key reason for setting aside the death penalty for Garry Allen is the issue of culpability. Since Garry Allen was sentenced to death, the United States Supreme Court has prohibited use of the death penalty in two cases of limited culpability: Juveniles and Mentally Retarded capital murderers.

    Allen was initially declared incompetent to proceed to trial and treated for over 4 months at a mental hospital after being diagnosed with chronic paranoid schizophrenia. He spoke of hearing voices and seeing visions. Just ten days later, a new doctor wrote to the court that Allen had been restored to competency.
    Neuropsychological evidence of Allen’s brain damage was omitted from the factors that determined sentencing. A competency jury deemed Allen competent under a standard of proof subsequently declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

    In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled that executing people with mental retardation violates the Constitution's ban on "cruel and unusual" punishment. (Oklahoma Coalition Against the Death Penalty)

    • Thomas Rykala says:

      Ms. Michalska – I made few typos and apologize for them (the word is predictive). Your comment seems to indicate that schizophrenia is relevant to discussion of mental retardation but the courts judged Mr. Allen competent and sane. This argument is thus moot. Also, consider the prongs that determine a mental retardation claim; The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) and The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV-R) are good sources cited in Supreme Court Atkins decision. IQ alone is not enough to make this claim and any intellectual/adaptive deficits have to have onset prior to age 18.
      I also want to convey that the neuropsychological evidence did not support the mental retardation claim nor offered any credible support when measured agains the premediated nature of the murder and its circumstances AS THE BRAIN INJURY RESULTED FROM MR ALLEN HAVING BEEN SHOT IN THE COURSE OF POLICE INTERVENTION AFTER THE CRIME.

      Please read the Supreme Court's Atkins decision closely and examine the standards offered by AAIDD/DSM IV, and then you will fully understand the erronous nature of the mental retardation argument in Mr. Allen's case.

  5. Thomas Rykala says:

    I would like to comment that using the Atkins' Supreme Court decision without any support in individual cases is a disservice to the anti-death penalty movement as it strips the movement of any credibility. All I read is citation of this decision but when it comes to actual evidence that is required to make such a claim, there is nothing there or simply fabricated (not supported by any objective analysis related to the prongs set forth by Atkins).

    I respectfully encourage everyone who wants to use Atkin's to plead clemency for death row inmates – familiarize yourselves fully with that decision and the sources the Supreme Court utilized to establish the prongs to make a mental retardation claim.

  6. Mr. Rykala,
    Mental retardation may or may not apply to Garry Allen and you are right I should substantiate the claim but there are certainly
    other factors to be considered here which sustain and bolster our credibility. What I am discussing here are the reasons for clemency.

    First, regarding Mr. Allen's mental state Neuropsychological evidence of Allen’s brain damage was omitted from the factors that determined sentencing. A competency jury deemed Allen competent under a standard of proof subsequently declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. THAT IS ONE OF A NUMBER OF REASONS FOR CLEMENCY.

    Then we have the other reasons aptly cited by Lydia Polley, OK-CADP Co-Chair: “We are respectfully and urgently asking her to reconsider this decision. Commuting his death sentence to life without parole achieves primary objectives of the criminal justice system: public protection, capital punishment, and faith in the system. Governor Fallin has legal, humanitarian, and Christian-faith basis for this action. Mr. Allen’s severely limited mental capacity, extreme physical & mental deterioration from a bullet fired by police, AND an unprecedented 4-1 clemency recommendation from the Pardon & Parole Board enlivens our request.”

    Why not clemency in the face of all of the above evidence, reasoning and information? Why the death penalty when it is not seen as a deterrent, 289 people have been exonerated by DNA evidence since the institution of DNA, there are racial disparities (injustices) in its application? (See deat Penalty Information Center,Innocence Project). Why are we the only nation of the Western, developed countries still executing our fellow humans? Why not mercy instead of vengeance?
    Mercy is the New Testament. So, why, Governor Fallin, not clemency in the face of all of the above?

    • Thomas Rykala says:

      Ms. Michalska – You make valid and well reasoned arguments for clemency however I stand firm that the neuropsychological examination cannot be used as it does not offer credible support when measured against Mr. Allen's premeditated actions against Ms. Titsworth simply because of the AFTER THE CRIME factor. I am also not buying into your last paragraph about racial disparity/DNA issues because it does not apply to Mr. Allen's case.

      I am not convinced that the Parole Board's vote is valid because it was not formed with unanimity; one dissent is all it takes to imbalance a decision and create doubt about the vote's credibility.

      Consider also that the State has an obligation to balance its interests against the interests of victims in how it resolves murder cases BUT the anti-death penalty movement omits victims from its rhetoric. Nowhere in your comments did you acknowledge the victim. That to me is simply detestable and distasteful. What's more, it minimizes the clemency effort enormously. Mercy is a relative term you know.

  7. whatsatire says:

    Mr. Rykala,
    My last paragraph is not a part of my argument for Garry Allen. I should have delineated that. They are factors/reasons for abolishing the death penalty. I mixed things up there. My apologies.

    Now let's get back to Mr. Allen: Your idea that there has to be unanimity by the Pand P is your idea not the norm. All that is needed is a majority not unanimity. There is no doubt about the P and P's credibility. The vote was 4 – 1. How is that credibility in doubt?? You seem to use that word in inappropriately here. Are you always so narrow and rigid?

    The anti-death penalty people do not omit concern for the victims. You are wrong. Just because I haven't mentioned that does not mean I am not sympathetic. I most certainly am sympathetic to the victims of crime. Who could not be? Why do you make such rash assumptions?
    Your use of the words detestable and distasteful show a narrow mind.

  8. whatsatire says:

    Carolyn Leopard,
    I so appreciate your compassion and sensitivity.
    Why can we not forgive and show mercy? If he were our
    father, brother or son we would be more understanding.
    You are right. Why can we not think as you imagine?
    Thank you for your ability to love.

  9. Gerri Michalska says:

    Mr. Rykala,
    I am glad that you appreciate my "valid and well reasoned arguments for clemency." So are you coming over to my side?

    I cite the neuropsychological information as support for clemency, i. e. mercy. It is an added factor/reason to have compassion not vengeance.

    Yes. Some of my last paragraph does not pertain to Mr. Allen. They are general reasons to abolish the death penalty.

    You have a strange notion that the decision of the Pardon and Parole
    Board has to be unanimous. That is not the general, accepted view. Nor does a 4 to 1 vote dilute or diminish the Board's credibility. I think you are incorrectly the word credibility here.

    Yes, I forgot to mention the victims here but that does not mean that neither I nor the Abolish the Death Penalty movement are not in great sympathy to them. I personally have great compassion for them and am aware that the recent legislation in Maryland to abolish the death penalty included financial support for victims' families.

    "Detestable and distasteful"?? Why so harsh and rigid? In the first place you are making a rash judgement, an erroneous assumption about me. I am very concerned about the victims. I hope that you will open your heart, Mr. Rykala. Good sharing with you.

  10. Thomas Rykala says:

    I take statements as they are spoken or written Ms. Michalska. An omission simply inidcates that this was intented.

    You have personally attacked me thrice already. Character assassination takes focus off of a message antagonizing the very person you want to persuade. You have provided an example of something else that falls within attacking when argument becomes weak: in a previous response you quoted Lydia Polley, OK-CADP Co-Chair's plea to Gov Fallin part of which reads "Mr. Allen’s severely limited mental capacity, extreme physical & mental deterioration from a bullet fired by police…" as reason for clemency. I do not see how insinuating the police are to blame or raising police intervention for public scrutiny makes for a logical argument to Gov Fallin?

    The Coalition uses every tactic to point of making misleading statements to garner public support. A better way would be to support the clemency request on the Board's vote alone – the most salient of arguments – instead of unfounded mental retardation, mental illness to God and mercy and finally implicating the police. OK-CADP, needs to rethink how it articulates their agenda.

  11. Thomas Rykala says:

    I am not sure the person with the moniker 'Whatsatire' knows anything about mercy, compassion, and ability to love – the moniker speaks volumes in that regard. Victims do not have a place in any rhetoric I read here. So extend mercy to a premeditated murderer, fabricate things to support clemency and dance a happy dance at the expense of Ms. Titsworth and the kids. Oh, and blame police in the process. We can then experience this feel-good phenomenon.

    Not I. I will always consider the victims to in, the true evidence and the defendant's culpability and lastly any mitigating factors prior to the crime NOT AFTER its commission.

    There is plenty of evidence that Mr. Allen was of sound mind and volition prior and during the murder, and the mitigating factors were noncontributory in nature.

    How many members of OK- CADP reached out to Ms. Titsworth family? Ms. Michalska admits she "forgot" to acknowledge Her, the co-chair did not, no other statements from the Coalition have any mention of Her and the children. .

    Gov Fallin has an obligation beyond love and mercy…

  12. Thomas Rykala says:

    May I respectfully ask how many Oklahomans agree with the delay recently caused by the Federal Court in granting Mr. Allen a full review DE NOVO (ANEW) of his claims. Plenty of taxpayer money has been paid out to allow for full and exaustive appeals through the years each of which was rejected based on merits, but now the 10th Circuit decided to waste more dollars to re-review these claims.

    The Attorney General's appeal of this stay to the Supreme Court will, by all logic, prevail.

    I think that Oklahomans need to demand that OK-CADP foot the bill for this judicial review.

    Gov Fallin – please send the Coalition an invoice with a due date of 04/30/12…

  13. Thomas Rykala says:

    I want to acknowledge that Shante Allen's effort to plead clemency for her father is dully noted and respected. The way she smiled in the picture delivering petitions must be an inidcation of inner peace.

    It is just a shame that this will not bring back her Mother…

  14. Thomas Rykala says:

    Garry Allen is back on the execution calendar for 11/06/12. Perhaps now he will finally pay for his crime…

  15. Thomas Rykala says:

    Posted: Nov 05, 2012 9:37 AM CST Updated: Nov 05, 2012 9:37 AM CST (source:

    By Associated Press

    Garry Thomas Allen is scheduled to be executed Tuesday, November 6.
    Members of an anti-death penalty group are calling on Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin to halt the execution of a convicted killer.

    The Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty will hold a rally at the state Capitol on Monday seeking to spare the life of 56-year-old Garry Thomas Allen. Allen is scheduled to be executed Tuesday.

    Allen was convicted and sentenced to die for the 1986 murder of his fiance, Lawanna Gail Titsworth, in the parking lot of an Oklahoma City daycare.

    Allen's attorneys say he was incompetent when he entered a guilty plea in the case and that his mental condition has continued to deteriorate, but appellate courts have rejected those claims.

    A spokesman for Fallin says the governor expects the execution to proceed.

    This writer commands Gov. Fallin for her stance on the death penalty. Oklahoma does not need bonafide murderers to rule the day….

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