CNN – Oklahoma has executed 50-year-old James Coddington, the first of 25 death row inmates the state intends to put to death through 2024, the state’s corrections director confirmed Thursday morning.
Coddington, who was sentenced to die for murdering Albert Hale in 1997 amid his struggle with a crack cocaine addiction, was executed after Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt on Wednesday denied his request for clemency.
Coddington’s attorneys and advocates had hoped his life would be spared, pointing to his remorse for Hale’s murder, his traumatic childhood and rehabilitation while on Oklahoma’s death row.
The time of death was 10:16 a.m. CT, Department of Corrections Director Scott Crow told reporters.
“Today’s not a good day, it’s not a bad day, it’s just a new day for our family,” Mitchell Hale, the victim’s son, told reporters after attending the execution.
“[There were] absolutely no issues. The execution today went in accordance with the protocol, with no issues at all.”
“We can finally move on. It’s not going to heal anything, but it closes this chapter.”
Coddington’s execution was the first of more than two dozen state officials plan to carry out between now and December 2024, at a pace of about one man a month.
Opponents have been critical of the plan: There are outstanding questions about some inmates’ innocence or mental fitness for execution, their attorneys have said, and critics have pointed to the state’s recent history of botched lethal injections.
Those troubles – dating back to the 2014 execution of Clayton Lockett, who writhed and moaned on the gurney for 43 minutes before suffering a heart attack – had prompted officials to put executions on hold during investigations and reviews of capital punishment in the state.
Executions resumed last October, with inmate John Grant, who convulsed and vomited on the gurney, per witnesses.