Homophobia Claimed in Oklahoma Execution

OKLAHOMA CITY-Jay Wesley Neill was executed by the state of Oklahoma on Thursday, December 12. Activists say his death sentence was tainted by bias and homophobia.

Requests from organizations including Queer Watch, Queer to the Left, and Amnesty International to Oklahoma Governor, Frank Keating, to delay the execution were to no avail.

The groups say Oklahoma prosecutors urged the jury to consider Neill.s sexual orientation in determining whether to mete out a death sentence. They say homophobia is revealed by the prosecutor.s own words at trial.

“I want you to think briefly about the man you.re setting [sic] in judgment on and determining what the appropriate punishment should be,” the prosecutor told the jury, “[J]ust put in the back of your mind what if I was sitting in judgment on this person without relating it to Jay Neill, and I.d like to go through some things that to me depict the true person, what kind of person he is. He is a homosexual. The person you.re sitting in judgment on-disregard Jay Neill. You.re deciding the life or death on a person that.s a vowed homosexual.”

The prosecutor.s appeal to prejudice was successful. The jury sentenced Neill to death despite what the groups say was significant mitigating evidence of Neill.s remorse, his physical abuse at the hands of both his father and stepfather and medical problems as a child. The US 10th Circuit Court of Appeals found the prosecutor.s remarks to be illegitimate and improper but refused to overturn the sentence.


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