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Oklahoma executes Anthony Sanchez, the third death row inmate to be killed in 2023

Anthony C. Sanchez
Oklahoma Department of Corrections
Anthony C. Sanchez

Oklahoma has executed the third death row inmate of 2023.

Anthony Castillo Sanchez was pronounced dead by lethal injection at 10:19 a.m. Thursday morning, in McAlester. He was 44.

Sanchez was convicted for the 1996 rape and shooting death of Juli Busken at Lake Stanley Draper, after she was abducted from a Norman apartment complex.

Sanchez's conviction was based on DNA evidence collected when he went to prison in 2002 on a second-degree burglary charge. In 2004, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation matched his DNA with evidence from the Busken case.

Sanchez maintained his innocence and claimed his late father Thomas Sanchez confessed to the crime before dying by suicide in 2022.

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals unanimously denied his appeal in April, saying those allegations were not enough to overcome the "compelling evidence" against him.

In June, Sanchez rejected the opportunity to have a clemency hearing before the state Pardon and Parole Board.

"The state always seems to come out on top," Sanchez said at the time. "Even when it doesn't, Governor [Kevin] Stitt is more than willing to make sure that death wins in the end. Why would someone like me participate in such a process?"

More recently, Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond rejected a request by state Rep. Justin Humphrey, R-Lane, to reprocess DNA evidence in the case. Drummond said the DNA had already been reprocessed, with "overwhelming" results showing Anthony Sanchez's guilt.

Sanchez is the tenth person to be executed by Oklahoma since the state resumed the practice in 2021. One more death row inmate — Phillip Hancock — is slated to be put to death this year, on Nov. 30.

Updated: September 21, 2023 at 10:29 AM CDT
Ryan LaCroix is the Director of Content and Audience Development for KOSU.
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