By Rachel Petersen
A two-time convicted killer, and death row inmate at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, was executed via lethal injection Tuesday evening in the prison’s death chamber.
James Lewis DeRosa, 36, was convicted Oct. 19, 2001, of two counts of first-degree murder and was subsequently sentenced to death.
DeRosa did not make any last requests prior to his execution, this includes a last meal request. At around noon Tuesday, he was offered a meal, one that was being served to the entire inmate population, and he denied accepting the food, according to Terry Crenshaw, OSP warden’s assistant.
DeRosa’a execution began at 6:01 p.m. When the blinds between the execution chamber and the witness room were raised, DeRosa did not turn his head. He stared up at the ceiling. OSP Warden Anita Trammell asked him if he had any last words and DeRosa said, “No Ma’am.”
Trammell then said, “Let the execution begin.”
DeRosa blinked a number of times before he began to breath heavily. He had one last long exhale and his eyelids stopped blinking. The color began to drain from his face and he was pronounced dead by an attending physician at 6:07 p.m.
Members of the victim’s family spoke after DeRosa’s execution was complete. “This is not about DeRosa,” said Janet Tolbert, whose parents were murdered by DeRosa. “This is about Curtis and Gloria Plummer.” Tolbert said her family is glad that justice has finally been served. She said her parents suffered a “horrendous” death. “Nothing compared to that light death” DeRosa just had, she said.
Tolbert and her daughter, Dana Gilliam, both wore white t-shirts with pictures of the Plummers printed on the front.
Witnessing DeRosa’s execution were five members of the media, 13 members of the victim’s family, two of DeRosa’s attorneys, three law enforcement representatives, Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Justin Jones and DOC Deputy Director Laura Pitman.
Earlier this month, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-2 against granting DeRosa clemency earlier this month.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt filed a request March 25 with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to set DeRosa’s execution date after the U.S. Supreme Court denied the inmate’s final appeal.
In October 2000, Curtis Plummer, 73, and Gloria Plummer, 70, both of Poteau, were found dead in their home with multiple stab wounds and with their throats cut. About one year later, in October 2001, DeRosa was found guilty by a jury of his peers for the LeFlore County first-degree murders of the Plummers. He was subsequently sentenced to death.
According to Pruitt, DeRosa was briefly employed by the Plummers and told several friends on multiple occasions he thought the elderly couple would be an easy target to rob. DeRosa’s 21-year-old friend, Eric Castleberry, now 33, and also known as John E. Castleberry, agreed to help with the robbery. Castleberry’s 18-year-old friend, Scotty White, now 30, agreed to drive.
Pruitt said DeRosa and Castleberry were welcomed into the Plummer’s home, which at the time was equipped with a security system. Once in the home, Pruitt said, DeRosa and Castleberry brandished knives and, while the couple begged and struggled for their lives, DeRosa stabbed the Plummers multiple times and slit their throats, the AG’s office reported.
“DeRosa and Castleberry left the scene with $73 and the couple’s pickup truck,” Pruitt said. “The truck was ditched in a nearby lake.”
In exchange for a life sentence without the possibility of parole, Castleberry testified at DeRosa’s trial. Castleberry is serving his two life sentences at OSP in McAlester.
White was charged with accessory to first-degree murder after the fact and received two 25-year sentences, to be served concurrently, and the last seven years to be served as probation. He is serving time at the Lawton Correctional Facility and has since been convicted of escaping from the Department of Corrections. He is scheduled to be released on Nov. 10, 2026, and has a parole hearing set in August of 2015.
DeRosa was received into the Oklahoma Department of Corrections on Dec. 10, 2001. He had been housed in Oklahoma’s death row at OSP in McAlester.
Contact Rachel Petersen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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