McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Police/Courts

May 21, 2013

Execution date requested for killer whose crime went unsolved for 20 years

McALESTER — Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt requested Monday that an execution date be set for a death row inmate whose crime went unsolved for two decades.

On May 20, the last appeal filed by Anthony Rozelle Banks, 60, was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court. “The defendant has exhausted all state and federal appeals,” Pruitt stated in his execution date request to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. “Therefore, the state respectfully requests this court set an execution date 60 days from May 20, 2013, or the earliest date this Court deems fit.”

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.

Two other death row inmates are set for execution in June at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. James L. DeRosa is set to be put to death by lethal injection on June 18 and Brian Darrell Davis is set for a June 25 execution. Both men are to be put to death in the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.

Contact Rachel Petersen at rpetersen@mcalesternews.com.

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