Clemency denied for Oklahoma death row inmate




  • In US
  • 2022-09-27 23:09:00Z
  • By McAlester News-Capital, Okla.

Sep. 27-The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted 4-1 Tuesday to deny clemency for Oklahoma death row inmate Benjamin Cole days prior to a scheduled hearing regarding his competency.

Attorneys for Cole told board members Tuesday their client deserved clemency because Cole is "a frail, 57-year-old man with a damaged and deteriorating brain, suffering from progressive and severe mental illness who poses no threat to anyone in any way."

Prosecutors for the state of Oklahoma argued that Cole was not diagnosed with any major mental illnesses until years after his trial and that three defense experts did not find any signs of mental disorders prior to his trial.

Cole, 57, was sentenced to death in the 2002 killing of his 9-month-old daughter Brianna in Rogers County and is scheduled to be executed Oct. 20.

Court records state Cole was playing a video game in December 2002 when his infant daughter started crying. He paused the game, pulled her feet backward to the point of breaking her spine that also tore her aorta, then started his game.

Prosecutors said the child was in "excruciating pain" while she bled out for 30 seconds before going unconscious.

Records state Cole denied any issue when the child's mom found her and asked him why she turned blue and foamed at the mouth. The child later died at the hospital.

Prosecutors said during the hearing that Cole denied any wrongdoing until he was presented with the medical examiner's report, in which he then said, "how many years am I looking at?"

The prosecution also argued that Cole was previously found competent twice and that state and federal courts repeatedly rejected Cole's claims of adjudicative incompetence and incompetence to be executed.

Representatives from the child's family encouraged the board to not recommend clemency for Cole.

"I never read through the medical examiner report until last week," said Dr. Bryan Young, the child's uncle. "As a physician I thought 'how can any human do that to a baby?'"

Donna Young, the child's aunt, said she never got to meet Brianna in person and was supposed to meet her for the first time on Christmas, five days after she died.

"This baby deserves justice; our family deserves justice," Donna Young said. "This man is a manipulator, a horrible person. He is manipulating this situation, if he was out in public, he would do this again."

An evidentiary hearing is set for 9 a.m. Sept. 30 in Cole's competency case with petitioners to call two witnesses: Cole and OSP Warden Jim Farris.

Contact Derrick James at djames@mcalesternews.com

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