Press

Action Alert: Urge Okla Governor to Stay Allen Execution

Date: 
January 04, 2001

Contact:
Hector Vargas
NGLTF State Legislative Lawyer
hvargas@ngltf.org
202-332-6483 ext. 3233

Last month, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force urged death penalty opponents to ask the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board to recommend clemency in the case of Wanda Jean Allen, who was sentenced to death for the shooting death of her lesbian lover. On Dec. 15, 2000, the board voted against granting clemency. (Details on the case are provided below.)

Without a favorable recommendation from the board, Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating does not have the ability to grant clemency, but he does have the power to postpone the execution for 60 days. A stay in the case would give Allen’s attorneys valuable time to find other ways to halt her execution and may give the Oklahoma Legislature an opportunity to vote on HB 1013, legislation that would impose a one-year moratorium on executions in the state. Beginning on January 4, 2001, nine executions in 30 days are scheduled in the state.

Oklahoma residents and others opposed to the death penalty are urged to contact Gov. Keating and ask him to grant a stay in the Wanda Jean Allen case. His contact information appears below:

Governor Frank Keating
State Capitol Building, Room 212
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
Phone: 405-521-2342
Fax: 405-521-3353
governor@gov.state.ok.us

Background on the Wanda Jean Allen Case

After two years of being involved in a violent relationship, Allen, an African-American lesbian, admitted to shooting her partner, Gloria Leathers, on Dec. 1, 1989 just outside Oklahoma City. On Dec. 5, 2000, NGLTF along with several other GLBT organizations issued a statement calling upon the Pardon and Parole Board and Gov. Keating to grant clemency to Allen. The groups urged clemency in her case both because of opposition to the death penalty and because of questions that have been raised regarding whether Allen received a fair trial. If she had been granted clemency, Allen would have served a life sentence in the Oklahoma State prison system.

Allen’s attorney failed to investigate fully Allen’s background showing that she has an IQ of 80 and has neurological problems that cause her to lose control in stressful situations - factors that were not introduced into court. In addition, according to a review of court records, prosecutors attempted to use Allen’s sexual orientation and her relationship with her partner to prejudice the jury against her.

–30–

The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.