Welcome back: It’s 6:30 a.m. Thursday morning at McAlester State Prison, the last 3 1/2 hours of convicted murderer Bigler Stouffer’s life and you’re here with me. The visitor’s waiting room which sits behind the walls is where reporters wait before the execution.
For John Grant’s execution on Oct. 28, the first in a long line of executions to be undertaken by the state, there were dozens of reporters in attendance. It was the same for Julius Jones, who as you know got a reprieve from the governor. This time there were far fewer press people at the prison and only a dozen protesters outside perhaps because the state changed the time of the execution from 4 p.m. to 10 a.m. It could be that with the third execution getting to be a regular thing, it just doesn’t attract as much attention from the media.
Regardless, Bigler Stouffer killed Linda Reaves back in 1985, he’d been on death row for 16 years and today justice would be delivered. These are the procedures I went through as a media witness to his execution:
The media center opened at 6 a.m. All media witnesses were expected to arrive no later than 7:30 a.m. No one was allowed on the grounds after 8 a.m.
The gates to the Oklahoma State Penitentiary were closed at 9 a.m. and did not reopen until after the execution process was completed.
A total of five media witnesses were allowed to view the execution. One seat was reserved for a local media representative from the town where the crime was committed, one was reserved for a representative with the Associated Press and the three remaining seats were determined by a lottery among the attendees.
At approximately 8 a.m. the drawing was held to select the other three media witnesses.
The selected media witnesses were then searched, provided with a notepad and pencil for note taking and led to a waiting van.
The five were then transported to a designated location within H Unit at 9 a.m. by the Department of Corrections liaison.
When they arrived at H Unit, they were searched again and asked to provide their state issued photo identification.
Next, they were escorted to a staging area by the DOC liaison where they waited until the time of the execution. The liaison was notified by radio when it was time to escort them into the witness room and show them to their seats where they were facing a window with a drawn curtain.
When the curtain rose, Stouffer was already secured to the bed with intravenous lines in place with an electrocardiogram hooked up to monitor his heart.
By request, the inmate’s spiritual advisor was in the room with him along with one other person who read the order of execution. After the order was read, the inmate was asked if he had any last words.
The inmate said that he was sorry for the things he had done in his life but, as in the past, he also said he was an innocent man. After he spoke, the execution began.
After the first chemical was administered intended to put him to sleep, a doctor entered the room and checked for consciousness. After the inmate was confirmed to be unconscious, the second and third chemicals were administered. This time everything went as expected and 16 minutes later Dr. Cox with the state entered the execution room and announced the time of death. Immediately after his announcement, the curtain closed blocking the view of the execution room.
The media witnesses were told to remain seated until the DOC liaison called on them to exit the room.
The dignitaries and inmate witnesses left first, followed by the media witnesses, then the victim witnesses.
Inmate Stouffer did not request a last meal, so at 6:59 p.m. he was served the same meal as all the other inmates: a chicken patty, two pieces of bread, fries, broccoli, mixed fruit, two cookies, a fruit drink and a bottle of water.
I wrote about John Grant’s October execution along with all the procedures you go through behind the prison walls in an earlier column. If you missed that story, you can find it on my website originalbuffalodale.com.
Up next for execution on Jan. 27 is Donald Grant for the murders of Brenda McElyea and Suzette Smith in 2001. Grant has been on death row for 20 years.
Till next time I’ll see ya down the road ….
This article originally appeared on Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise: Buffalo Dale: Oklahoma executes Bigler Stouffer