McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Police/Courts

November 6, 2012

Oklahoma death row inmate set for execution tonight

McALESTER — Oklahoma death row inmate Garry Thomas Allen, 56, is scheduled to be executed tonight at 6 p.m. in the death chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.

This is not the first time Allen has been set to be executed. In April, officials at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary conducted normal execution day procedures while waiting to find out about approval or disapproval of an appeal filed with the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals

A stay was issued for Allen one day before he was set for execution.

“A federal judge stayed Garry Allen’s execution,” said OSP Warden’s Assistant Terry Crenshaw back in April. U.S. District Judge David L. Russell issued the stay, ruling that Allen’s claims that he is insane and ineligible for the death penalty should be reviewed. Allen has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and his attorneys argue his mental state deteriorated on death row.

“Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has filed a notice of appeal to the stay of execution,” Crenshaw said in April. If the appeal to the stay of execution is granted, officials at OSP have “measures in place to carry out the execution according to court orders.” Pruitt’s appeal was not granted.

Allen was also set for execution on Feb. 16, but Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin granted a 30-day stay of execution for the condemned man. She said the stay was issued so her legal team could have more time to consider a 2005 recommendation by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board to commute his sentence to life.

“Having thoroughly reviewed the arguments and evidence presented in this case, I have determined that clemency should be denied in this case, and that the sentence of death be carried out,” Fallin wrote in an executive order filed March 13.

The 30-day stay would have set Allen’s execution for March 17, but that date was moved to April 12, before being stayed yet again.

Allen received his death sentence for the 1986 murder of his 24-year-old wife, Lawanna Gail Titsworth. The McAlester News-Capital reported in May of 2008 that Allen’s conviction and death sentence came after he gunned down Titsworth four days after she moved out of their home with their two sons, who were 6 and 2 at the time.

Allen was first scheduled to be executed May 19, 2005. A stay of execution was granted by Judge Bartheld one day before his scheduled execution. The Associated Press reported Allen’s mental competency was in question after a psychological exam at OSP indicated he had developed mental problems while confined on death row. The doctor’s report noted Allen had dementia caused by seizures, drug abuse and being shot in the face.

The U.S. Supreme Court and state law prohibit execution of inmates who are insane or mentally incompetent.

On May 1, 2008, a Pittsburg County jury decided, on split decision, that Allen is “sane to be executed.” For more than three years since, numerous court motions and legal arguments have been heard in the case.

On Dec. 28, Bartheld signed a legal order vacating Allen’s stay of execution, stating “the court ... having reviewed the pleadings, finds that the issue of the sanity of Garry Thomas Allen for execution has been resolved...”

On Nov. 21, 1986, reports indicate Allen went to his children’s daycare center in Oklahoma City when his wife, Titsworth, was scheduled to pick them up. Titsworth had gone to the parking lot when Allen confronted her, according to court records. As Titsworth opened the door to her truck, Allen shut the door and prevented her from entering, court documents state.

As the two argued, Allen reached into his sock, pulled out a revolver and shot Titsworth twice in the chest.

“It is unclear whether Titsworth was holding her youngest son at the time of the shooting or had picked him up immediately thereafter,” documents filed with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Criminal Appeals state.

After Allen shot Titsworth, she begged him not to shoot her again and fell to the ground. Allen then asked Titsworth if she was all right and lifted up her blouse, apparently attempting to examine her injuries.

“At the time of the shooting, some of the daycare employees were in the parking lot and several of the children were in a van parked a few feet from Titsworth’s truck,” court documents state.

“After the shooting, Titsworth managed to get up and start running toward the building along with a daycare center employee.”

As they headed up the steps leading to the front door, Allen pushed the daycare employee through the door and shoved Titsworth down on the steps, where he shot her twice in the back at close range.

Oklahoma City police officer Mike Taylor responded to a 911 call within minutes and a witness pointed to an alley where Allen was hiding. Taylor spotted Allen in the alley, pulled his revolver and ordered him to stop and remain still.

Although Allen initially complied with the order, he turned and began walking away. When Taylor reached out to place a hand on him, Allen quickly turned and grabbed the policeman’s gun.

During a struggle, Allen gained partial control of the gun and “attempted to make officer Taylor shoot himself by applying pressure to Taylor’s finger which was still on the trigger,” court documents state.

As the struggle continued, Taylor regained control of the gun and shot Allen in the face, according to court records.

Allen was hospitalized for approximately two months for injuries to his face, left eye and brain. Afterwards, he entered a blind plea — meaning no plea bargain agreement had been reached — to first-degree murder and other charges on Nov. 10, 1987.

An Oklahoma County judge subsequently sentenced Allen to death. The appeals court later ordered a second sentence hearing, which also resulted in the death sentence.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Correction’s website, at www.doc.state.ok.us, Allen has been incarcerated at OSP since Dec. 23, 1987, and is currently housed on death row in the prison’s H-Unit.

Contact Rachel Petersen at rpetersen@mcalesternews.com. James Beaty contributed to this story, contact him at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com. The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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.

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