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Oklahoma Gov. Keating Discusses Scheduled Execution of Wanda Jean Allen

Aired January 11, 2001 - 1:01 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: It's been almost half a century since an African-American woman was executed in these United States, but that could change tonight: 41-year-old Wanda Jean Allen is scheduled to die by lethal injection in Oklahoma for murdering her lover in 1988. Unless Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating or a federal appeals court acts, the execution is scheduled to take place in just nine hours.

We have with us from Oklahoma the governor of the state, Frank Keating.

Mr. Keating, are you going to issue a stay?

GOV. FRANK KEATING (R), OKLAHOMA: Well, I don't know. Let me give you some background, Lou. This women murdered a woman in 1981. She murdered another woman in 1983 in front of a police station. All of these years of appeals and more appeals have resulted in her conviction standing and her being sentenced to death this evening.

The clemency board elected not to recommend clemency. I have no authority to reduce the death sentence to life imprisonment or life in prison without parole. What I could theoretically do is send it back to the clemency board to take another look to determine whether or not something else should be done.

But I have a meeting this morning -- I had a meeting this morning with Rev. Jackson and a number of opponents of the capital case here. This afternoon I'm going to have a meeting with the attorney general, who happens to be a Democrat in my state -- I'm a Republican governor -- to discuss the pros and cons of this case and the arguments.

So we're going to have a thorough, comprehensive legal policy review before a decision is made.

WATERS: And what was Jesse Jackson's argument with you on this particular case?

KEATING: Well, his particular argument is the argument of a lot in the faith community that capital punishment is inherently unjust, that the state should not take another life. I reminded him that this woman murdered two people. And the sentence of death was the result of a latest murder, which the jury found to be premeditated.

Now, Rev. Jackson raised the issue of competency of counsel. That was thoroughly reviewed in the first appeal of many, many years of federal appeals and state appeals. He also raised the issue of her education and was this known by the clemency board? She had quite less -- a lot less education than she first testified under oath, and does this have any impact on her knowledge of what happens to her, what she did? In effect, is this a standard that she didn't meet in order to be executed: having sufficient knowledge of the facts of what occurred and what is happening to her.

So all of these are issues that I'm going to look at this afternoon. But I explained to Rev. Jackson, I do support capital punishment for premeditated killings. I certainly want to make sure that all due process and fairness standards apply, that she had every single avenue of appeal in her case, and that it is in the interest of justice and the law that the sentence be carried out before I make a decision.

WATERS: All right, Gov. Keating, thanks so much.

KEATING: Thanks, Lou.

WATERS: You're in the middle of this ongoing dispute over the death penalty in our nation and we appreciate you very much taking time to talk with us.

KEATING: You're very welcome. Thanks, Lou. Appreciate it.

WATERS: Gov. Keating of Oklahoma. We expect to hear from Jesse Jackson momentarily.

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