Oklahoma State Penitentiary death row inmate Jeffrey David Matthews, 38, is scheduled to be executed today at 6 p.m. His requested last meal, a small deep-dish meat-lovers pizza, deep fried shrimp with cocktail sauce and two hush puppies with vinegar sauce, is set to be served to the inmate between 12 and 1 p.m.

Matthews was scheduled for execution, and received stays, on three different dates in 2010 — June 17, July 20 and Aug. 12. “He is close to a record,” said Lanny Choate on Friday afternoon. Choate, a friend of Matthews’ lawyer, is also one of many people supporting Matthews.

Matthews is set to be executed for the 1994 murder of his 77-year-old great-uncle, Otis Earl Short, who was shot to death during a robbery of his home in Rosedale. Short’s wife, Minnie, was attacked, had her throat slashed but survived. Authorities said Matthews, along with co-defendant Tracy Dyer, searched the house for nearly two hours, eventually leaving in Otis Short’s truck with $500 in cash and a .32-caliber pistol.

Matthews and Dyer were arrested the next day for the robbery and murder. Dyer admitted his guilt and received a life sentence. Matthews maintained his innocence and was sentenced to death.

Nearly 17 years later, Matthews continues to plead his innocence. Choate and other Matthews supporters are using these last few hours before Matthews’ execution to fight to save the inmate’s life. “Not the last date, but the one before that,” Choate explained, “the stay finally came on the day of execution — about six hours before.” Choate is hoping and praying that the same happens today.

Choate, a Jehovah’s Witness, is a proponent of the death penalty. “Capital Punishment was God’s idea,” Choate said. “But the problem here is that Jeff is innocent.”

Back in July, Matthews also turned to YouTube to plead for his life. In the video, the inmate asks the governor to help him. “My name is Jeffrey David Matthews and I’m set for execution,” said the convict on his YouTube posting. “I did not kill my uncle Earl ... I did not kill my uncle and I wasn’t there.” Matthews continues by saying “I humbly ask you to help me in this matter ... I really would like for you to talk to Mike Mars.”

Mike Mars is a former deputy sheriff who arrested Matthews. In an affidavit submitted to the State of Oklahoma, Mars says: “I believe there is a reasonable likelihood that Matthews is innocent” and “I am convinced that Matthews did not receive a fair trial.” In this affidavit, Mars continues to explain the many reasons why he believes Matthews is innocent and did not receive a fair trial.”

Mars has complained about the case from the start. But only lately has he turned to YouTube as well to make his point to a wider audience, CBS reported. “I firmly believe that they made Jeff Matthews fit the crime — instead of the evidence convicting him,” said Mars on YouTube.

Also scheduled to be executed today in Texas, is death row inmate Cleve Foster, 47, for the Feb. 14, 2002, murder of Nyanuer “Mary” Pal. Foster and co-defendant Sheldon Ward were convicted of sexually assaulting and shooting 28-year-old Pal, resulting in her death. Foster’s execution is the first scheduled execution for the state of Texas in 2011.

Oklahoma’s first 2011 execution occurred on Jan. 6, when 38-year-old death row inmate Billy Don Alverson was executed for the Feb. 26, 1995, murder of 30-year-old Richard Kevin Yost, during a robbery of the Quik Trip in Tulsa, where Yost was the store’s night clerk. Alverson was one of four men found guilty of first-degree murder in the beating death of Yost. Three of those men were sentenced to death, and one, Darwin Brown, who had turned 18 a month prior to the murder, was executed on Jan. 22, 2009.

Matthews is Oklahoma’s second death row inmate scheduled for execution in 2011. Oklahoma has no other executions scheduled for 2011 at this time.

Contact Rachel Petersen at rpetersen@mcalesternews.com.


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