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Oklahoma executes man who murdered elderly couple

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Scott Eizember, sentenced to death for murdering a couple in their 70s, demanded to have his priest present in the execution chamber./AFP
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Jan 13, 2023 - 01:16 AM

WASHINGTON — An American man, convicted of murdering an elderly couple almost 20 years ago, was executed Thursday in the presence of a priest whom Oklahoma prison authorities initially wanted to keep away.

Scott Eizember, 62, was given a lethal injection at McAlester Penitentiary in the central US state of Oklahoma.

“Justice is served,” said Oklahoma attorney general Gentner Drummond, who witnessed the execution.

Eizember was found guilty of murdering A.J. Cantrell and Patsy Maye Cantrell, both in their 70s, on October 18, 2003.

“After holding the Cantrells captive for hours, Eizember shot Mrs Cantrell and repeatedly bludgeoned Mr Cantrell in the head with the same shotgun,” Drummond said in a statement.

“Eizember then made himself a snack and drank and sat in the house, unbothered, as A.J. and Patsy languished and died.”

In 2005 he was convicted and sentenced to death.

Last September he was visited by Jeffrey Hood, an Old Catholic priest opposed to capital punishment.

The two grew close and Eizember sought to have Hood present during his execution.

On January 4 prison officials refused the request, concerned that Hood’s militant opposition to the death penalty could disrupt the execution and upset the family of the victims.

Hood and Eizember sued over the decision, saying the authorities were “hostile toward religion.”

“They deny a prisoner his chosen spiritual advisor at the most critical juncture of his life: his death,” they said.

On Wednesday prison authorities reversed their decision and accepted the request, saying it was important to bring the case to an end.

“The family members of the victims in this case are ready for closure,” said Oklahoma Corrections Department Director Steven Harpe in a statement.

“They understand that the lawsuit challenging the decision to deny chamber access to the activist could lead to Thursday’s execution being stayed,” he said.

“Far too often, it is the victim and the victim’s family who are overlooked in these cases. We want to make sure their concerns are heard instead of everything being solely about the inmate,” he added

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