By Rachel Petersen
An execution date has been set for a death row inmate whose crime went unsolved for two decades.
Anthony Rozelle Banks, 60, is scheduled to be executed Sept. 10 via lethal injection in the death chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.
On May 20, the last appeal filed by Banks was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court. “The defendant has exhausted all state and federal appeals,” said Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt in his execution date request to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. “Therefore, the state respectfully requests this court set an execution date ...”
Banks was convicted in 1999 of the murder of Sun I. Kim Travis in Tulsa. Travis was kidnapped from her Tulsa apartment in June 1979. She was raped, beaten and shot in the face. Her body was dumped in a ditch. Prior to her death, Travis, a Korean national, met her husband when he was serving in the American military on deployment in Korea. “The two married and moved to Tulsa, where it appears they lived happily,” court records state.
“At first, the police knew very little. Mrs.’ Travis’s husband was at home preparing dinner when he looked out the window and saw his wife’s car pull into the apartment complex’s parking lot, apparently followed by another vehicle.
“After several minutes passed and she didn’t come inside, he went out to check on her. She was nowhere to be seen. Mr. Travis sensed something was amiss because the car was parked at an odd angle with the headlights still on and the driver’s door open. The pillow that Mrs. Travis kept on the driver’s seat was lying in the street.”
Court records indicate that the next morning, a man on a tractor discovered her body in a roadside ditch. “She had suffered a gunshot would to the head, and her face bore recent bruises,” court records state. “Her blouse was missing and her panties were ripped and lying by her feet.” The medical examiner found semen on her clothes and in her body.
The murder case of Travis had gone unsolved until Tulsa police used DNA evidence to link Banks and Allen Wayne Nelson, 53, to the woman’s rape and murder. Tulsa police used DNA testing from two different analysts on sperm from the slain woman’s body and clothes to link Banks and Nelson to the crime. DNA testing indicated that both men had raped her, court records state.
“One of the analysts said the likelihood of a random African American individual matching the DNA sequence attributed to Mr. Banks was on the order of 1 in 300 billion,” court records state.
In 1997, Banks and Nelson were charged with her murder. Nelson was sentenced to life in prison and in October 1999, Banks was convicted and sentenced to death.
When convicted, Banks was already serving a life sentence for killing a convenience store clerk, David Fremin, in 1978. In a court hearing, Banks admitted to shooting Fremin in the head during a holdup.
Contact Rachel Petersen at email@example.com.
For more on this story, see the print or electronic editions of the McAlester News-Capital. Click here for print edition home delivery or click here to see the Smart Edition for your computer, tablet, e-reader or smart phone.