Albion Monitor /News

Quiet Execution of Youngest Man in Recent U.S. History

by Bill Johnson

(AR) McALESTER, Okla. -- Scott Dawn Carpenter was a young man, only 22, but he said he wanted to die.

The state of Oklahoma granted his wish early Thursday morning, May 8.

Carpenter was put to death by lethal injection at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in this southeast Oklahoma city for the 1994 murder of A.J. Kelley, a 56-year-old McIntosh County convenience store owner. A doctor pronounced Carpenter dead at 12:22 a.m., shortly after the lethal brew was introduced into his veins.

He was the youngest person executed in the United States since the death penalty was again made legal in 1976.

Carpenter had entered a blind guilty plea to a first-degree murder charge and although he had no prior arrest record, a judge sentenced him to die
To the end, Carpenter said he would rather die than spend more time in prison. He directed his lawyer not to file any more appeals.

Carpenter had entered a blind guilty plea to a first-degree murder charge. Although he had no prior arrest record, a judge sentenced him to die.

Carpenter was the ninth person put to death in Oklahoma, and the 379th nationally, in the past 20 years.

Officials said Carpenter spent his last day pretty much as he had spent his final two months -- alone, watching television. His mother stayed with him for 80 minutes, but he had no other family visitors and none signed up to view his death.

Carpenter was served his requested final meal at noon -- barbecued beef ribs, corn on the cob, baked beans, potato salad, hot rolls, sweetened lemonade and pecan pie with whipped topping. Prison officials said he declined an evening meal.

Four relatives of the victim were in the small audience that saw Carpenter die. The accommodation of family members of victims wishing to view executions is a new state program rushed into law only Wednesday by the state Legislature.

Carpenter made no final statement from the death chamber.

In Oklahoma City, Attorney General Drew Edmondson said his thoughts "are with the family of A.J. Kelley. Their trip through our justice system is now complete, and I hope, in its resolution, they may now find some peace."

According to testimony at his trial, Carpenter filled his pickup truck with $37 worth of gasoline, then went into the convenience store , where he placed a sandwich, soft drink and chewing tobacco near the cash register.

Kelley's body was found in the minnow room of the convenience store, which was located near Lake Eufaula in eastern Oklahoma. Investigators speculated Carpenter said he wanted to buy some bait, then followed Kelley to the room and stabbed him in the neck.

He was interrupted as two men, one of them a retired Oklahoma City police detective, entered the store. The gave chase out of the store, then wrote down the car's license tag number as Carpenter drove away.

Carpenter was apprehended about an hour later.

Carpenter was in the early stages of his appeal process, which could have continued for several more years. Instead, he fired his lawyer from the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System.

In January, he wrote the Oklahoma Court of Criminals Appeals saying he had fired his lawyer because his request for no more appeals was not being followed.

A McIntosh County judge named attorney Deborah Reheard as Carpenter's new lawyer and set a hearing for Feb. 13.

At that hearing, Carpenter spent an hour on the witness stand defending his choice and answering questions about his mental and emotional status. He told Judge Steven Taylor the best he could hope for, should the death penalty be overturned, would be life in prison or life without parole.

"I could be in the system for 60 or 70 years," Carpenter said. "I see no future in that."

Although she personally opposes the death penalty, Reheard supported Carpenter's decision. She spent two hours with him the night before his execution and told prison officials as she left him that he had not changed his mind and that she would not be filing any appeals.

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Albion Monitor May 27, 1997 (

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