December 8, 2023

Sep. 12—An attorney for an Oklahoma death row inmate claims a previous attorney has more than 40 boxes of case material that needs to be reviewed in his request for a 60-day reprieve of a Sept. 21 execution date.

In a letter to Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, Eric Allen, the newly hired attorney for Anthony Sanchez, wrote he does not know what is inside the boxes and claims Sanchez’s previous lawyer is refusing to give up the material.

“Our understanding is that his prior attorneys had not gone through all the materials contained in these boxes. This is unconscionable in a death penalty case,” Allen wrote. “With a Sept. 21 execution date, there simply is not enough time for me to obtain and review all Mr. Sanchez’s legal materials. This is simply a matter of fairness. Can your great state execute this man without all of evidence being reviewed and all avenues exhausted?”

Sanchez, 45, is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection Sept. 21 at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester for the 1996 death of 21-year-old Jewel Jean “Juli” Busken. Sanchez was convicted by a Cleveland County jury during a trial in 2006 after his DNA was found on a leotard belonging to Busken.

Allen argues in his letter the analysis of the DNA was done “when the scandalized Joyce Gilcrist was managing the Oklahoma City Police crime lab.”

Gilcrist was fired from the crime lab in 2001 following a lawsuit from a man who was wrongfully convicted of rape due to Gilcrist’s false analysis that resulted in a more than $4 million settlement.

“I cannot make any assertions whether she was involved in managing Anthony’s case because I do not have the materials to say one way or the other,” Allen wrote. “Her name may be somewhere on the bench notes regarding the analysis and that avenue would absolutely have to be examined and litigated.”

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals denied in April a motion for a new hearing in the case over arguments about the DNA and other factors. Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond denied a request made by Rep. Justin Humphrey, R- Lane, to retest the DNA in the case.

Allen wrote he knows the process is “excruciating for the Buskin family,” but the request is about fairness.

“Can he be put to death with evidence in boxes we have no idea what is in them? Of course, even if we had them there is simply not enough time to go through such a magnitude of paper and information and have it made sense,” Allen wrote to Stitt.

Supporters of Sanchez are also making a more than 120-mile trek on foot from McAlester to the Oklahoma Capitol to deliver a letter from Sanchez asking for a stay in his execution to allow his legal team time to look at the case.

Supporters said they expect to deliver Sanchez’s letter and accumulated signatures from an online petition to Stitt’s office at the Capitol in Oklahoma City on Wednesday at 4 p.m.

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