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Oklahoma executes Scott Eizember, the eighth death row inmate to be killed since the state resumed capital punishment

Scott Dean Eizember
Oklahoma Department Of Corrections
Scott Dean Eizember

Updated: Jan. 12 at 2:14 p.m.

For the first time in 2023 and the eighth time in eight years, Oklahoma has executed a death row inmate.

Scott Dean Eizember was pronounced dead by lethal injection at 10:15 a.m. Thursday morning. He's the eighth death row inmate to be killed since the state resumed capital punishment in October 2021 after a six-year moratorium. He was 62.

Eizember was convicted in the 2003 beating death of 76-year-old A.J. Cantrell. He was also sentenced to 150 years in prison for the shooting death of 70-year-old Patsy Cantrell.

After killing the Cantrells, Eizember went on a lengthy crime spree, which included kidnapping and beating multiple people, and shooting and wounding a 16-year-old boy. “One of the largest manhunts” the state had ever seen ended after 37 days when Eizember was shot by one of the people he kidnapped and sought medical help for his injuries.

Five media members were selected by a random draw to witness the execution: Sean Murphy (Associated Press), Lori Fullbright (News On 6), Katelyn Ogle (KFOR), Andrea Eger (Tulsa World) and Dylan Goforth (The Frontier). The witnesses didn’t note any issues with the execution.

The victims’ grandson Justin Wyatt was among family members who spoke after the execution.

“I don’t know if today was justice. I don’t know if today was closure. I’m not sure it was ever about any of those things for us,” Wyatt said. “Maybe today was a bookend for another day that happened almost 20 years ago, with a whole lot of stories in between. I do know that I’m glad that our enemy is dead.”

Oklahoma has 10 more executions scheduled this year, and 20 total before the end of 2024.


Oklahoma death row inmate Scott Eizember is set to be executed Thursday morning. He was denied clemency by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board in December.

Eizember is on death row for the 2003 beating death of 76-year-old A.J. Cantrell. He also was sentenced to 150 years in prison for the shooting death of 70-year-old Patsy Cantrell.

Eizember, who was 42-years-old at the time, had broken into the Cantrell’s home in Depew, Okla. to spy on the house across the street, which belonged to the mother of Kathy Biggs, his ex-girlfriend. Eizember had a history of stalking Biggs, as he also burglarized her apartment, violated a protective order, bound her with duct tape and held a knife to her throat. Now, he believed she was hiding from him at her mother’s house.

After killing the Cantrells, Eizember went across the street, shooting and wounding Biggs’ 16-year-old son and beating Biggs’ 63-year-old mother.

For 37 days, Eizember led authorities on what was called “one of the largest manhunts” the state had ever seen, involving nearly 400 officers and support personnel. After hiding in the woods, hay bales and a church food pantry, Eizember eventually fled to Arkansas in a stolen car before running out of gas. A doctor and his family stopped to help, and he took them hostage and drove their van to Texas. Eizember was later shot by the doctor during a restroom break, and arrested while seeking medical help for his injuries.

In his recent clemency hearing, defense attorneys said Eizember grew up in an abusive home, and asked that he be allowed to remain in prison.

"I belong in prison," Eizember said. "I've said that right from the start. And I apologize profusely to all the victims."

Earlier this week, it was reported Eizember's clergy of record, Reverend Dr. Jeff Hood, would not be allowed to be with him at the time of his death.

In their denial of Hood's application, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections said it was to prevent any outbursts from Hood, who has been arrested for nonviolent offenses at protests in other states in the past.

But on Wednesday, Hood's attorney Randall Coyne told KWGS that the agency and Hood came to an agreement that would allow Hood to minister to Eizember during the lethal injection.

Eizember is the next in a string of dozens of death row inmates scheduled for execution over the next two years.

A torturous history

For years, executions in Oklahoma have been gruesome and filled with protocol violations.

In October 2021, in the state's first execution in seven years, John Grant convulsed and vomited repeatedly after being administered the three-drug cocktail. But, the executions of six inmates since then were all reported by witnesses to happen without any complications.

Executions had been on pause in Oklahoma following the near-execution of Richard Glossip in 2015, and the botched lethal injections of Charles Warner in 2015 and Clayton Lockett in 2014.

Glossip was scheduled to die in September 2015, but then-Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin issued a last-minute stay of execution after it was discovered the Department of Corrections received a shipment of potassium acetate instead of potassium chloride, as required in the state's execution protocol.

A few months ago, Glossip had his scheduled execution halted for a fourth time, as the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals reviewed a request for a new hearing. The court denied his claim, and Glossip is now scheduled to die on Feb. 16, 2023.

An autopsy report revealedthe state used the wrong drug — again, potassium acetate — to execute Warner in January 2015. According to witnesses, Warner said, "It feels like acid," and "My body is on fire" while being given the three-drug cocktail.

Lockett's April 2014 execution was also botched.A report issued after his death found that after trying for 51 minutes to find a vein, a phlebotomist misplaced the IV line intended to deliver the lethal cocktail of drugs directly into Lockett's bloodstream. Instead, the cocktail was delivered to the surrounding tissue.

Lockett writhed on the gurney and mumbled before being pronounced dead 43 minutes after the procedure began. An investigation later revealed that the faulty insertion of the intravenous line and lack of training of the execution team contributed to the problems.

In January 2014, Oklahoma executed Michael Lee Wilson by lethal injection. Shortly after his execution started, Wilson's final words were, "I feel my whole body burning."

Updated: January 12, 2023 at 2:14 PM CST
Ryan LaCroix is the Director of Content and Audience Development for KOSU.
Hannah France is a reporter and producer for KGOU.
Before joining Public Radio Tulsa, Elizabeth Caldwell was a freelance reporter and a teacher
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