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Oklahoma death row inmate Anthony Sanchez, 44, was executed for the 1996 rape and murder of a 21-year-old ballerina at 10.19am Thursday by lethal injection.
Sanchez received a series of three injections with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections noting the family of the victim did not attend.
The 44-year-old was sentenced to death after being convicted of the heinous crime against University of Oklahoma student Juli Basken who he abducted, sexually assaulted, bound and shot in the head at Lake Stanley Draper.
His last meal was chicken fried steak, fried okra, mashed potatoes, apple pie and ice cream, hot roll and sweet iced tea, telling KFOR on Tuesday: ‘I probably won’t be able to eat it to tell you the truth.’
Despite a bullet, DNA evidence, a footprint and a sketch of the suspect convincing a jury of his guilt, Sanchez maintained his innocence up until the execution but did not request clemency claiming there was ‘little hope.’
While strapped to the gurney Sanchez’s last words were ‘I’m innocent. I didn’t kill nobody.’
Some reports said that he added that his attorneys were ‘the worst lawyers in the state of Oklahoma’ and that he’s ‘sorry to whoever has them as lawyers.’
Oklahoma death row inmate Anthony Sanchez, 44, was executed for the 1996 rape and murder of a 21-year-old ballerina at 10.19am by lethal injection
His last meal was chicken fried steak, fried okra, mashed potatoes, apple pie and ice cream, hot roll and sweet iced tea
Earlier this week, while speaking to KFOR, Sanchez said: ‘If this is what makes the Busken’s happy and able to move on, I’m happy for ’em. But I’m innocent. I didn’t kill their daughter,’ he added to the outlet.
Sanchez also said to the outlet that he didn’t want to have any of his family to witness the execution.
‘Nobody wants to see their son executed and that’s why I don’t want nobody here.’
The case went unsolved for years until DNA from the crime scene was matched Sanchez who was serving prison time for burglary.
Even though he maintained that he had nothing to do with the killing of Busken, he took the unusual step of opting not to present a clemency application to the state´s Pardon and Parole Board, which many viewed as the last chance to spare his life.
Shortly before he was put to death, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request for a stay of execution submitted by his new lawyer, Eric Allen, of Columbus, Ohio.
Allen had said he needed more time to go through the case evidence.
Busken, a Benton, Arkansas, native had just completed her last semester at the university when she was abducted on December 20, 1996, from the parking lot of her Norman apartment complex.
Busken had performed as a ballerina in several dance performances during her tenure at OU and was memorialized at the campus with a dance scholarship in her name at the College of Fine Arts.
Juli Busken (pictured) a University of Oklahoma dance student graduate, was found abducted from her apartment, raped and murdered in Oklahoma City, 1996. She was shot in the back of the head with a .22-caliber firearm, according to court documents
Busken, a Benton, Arkansas native, and ballerina had just completed her last semester at the university when she was abducted on December 20, 1996, from the parking lot of her Norman apartment complex
Years later, Sanchez was serving time for a burglary conviction when DNA from sperm on Busken’s clothing at the crime scene was matched to him. He was convicted and sentenced to die in 2006.
Sanchez has long maintained his innocence and did so again in a phone call to The Associated Press earlier this year from death row. ‘That is fabricated DNA,’ Sanchez said. ‘That is false DNA. That is not my DNA. I’ve been saying that since day one.’
He told the AP that he declined to ask for clemency because even when the five-member Pardon and Parole Board takes the rare step of recommending it, Gov. Kevin Stitt has been unlikely to grant it.
‘I’ve sat in my cell and I’ve watched inmate after inmate after inmate get clemency and get denied clemency,’ Sanchez said. ‘Either way, it doesn’t go well for the inmates.’
Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond maintained that the DNA evidence unequivocally linked Sanchez to Busken’s killing.
A sample of Anthony Sanchez’s DNA ‘was identical to the profiles developed from sperm on Busken’s panties and leotard,’ Drummond wrote last month in a letter to a state representative who had inquired about Sanchez’s conviction.
Drummond added there was no indication either profile was mixed with DNA from any other individual and that the odds of randomly selecting an individual with the same genetic profile were 1 in 94 trillion among Southwest Hispanics.
‘There is no conceivable doubt that Anthony Sanchez is a brutal rapist and murderer who is deserving of the state´s harshest punishment,’ Drummond said in a recent statement.
A private investigator hired by an anti-death penalty group contended that the DNA evidence may have been contaminated and that an inexperienced lab technician miscommunicated the strength of the evidence to a jury.
Former Cleveland County District Attorney Tim Kuykendall, who was the county’s top prosecutor when Sanchez was tried, has said that while the DNA evidence was the most compelling at trial, there was other evidence linking Sanchez to the killing, including ballistic evidence and a shoe print found at the crime scene.
Gov. Kevin Stitt (pictured on June 14, 2023) has granted clemency just once. Sanchez claimed there is ‘little hope’ that the state’s Republican governor Kevin Stitt would spare his life
Supporters of Oklahoma death row inmate Anthony Sanchez proclaim his innocence during a news conference at the Oklahoma Capitol in Oklahoma City, May 25, 2023
‘I know from spending a lot of time on that case, there is not one piece of evidence that pointed to anyone other than Anthony Sanchez,’ Kuykendall said recently.
‘I don’t care if a hundred people or a thousand people confess to killing Juli Busken.’
Oklahoma resumed carrying out the death penalty in 2021, ending a six-year moratorium brought on by concerns about its execution methods.
The state had one of the nation´s busiest death chambers until problems arose in 2014 and 2015.
Richard Glossip was hours away from being executed in September 2015 when prison officials realized they received the wrong lethal drug.
It was later learned the same wrong drug had been used to execute an inmate in January 2015.