Carlos Cuesta-Rodriguez – Latino, age 45

Sentenced to death in Oklahoma County, Oklahoma
By: A jury
Date of crime: May 2001
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Cuesta-Rodriguez was convicted of first degree murder in the killing of his girlfriend, Olimpia Cardina Fisher. Rodriguez shot Fisher twice in the face during an argument about their relationship. The defense urged the jury to consider Cuesta-Rodriguez’s entire life and not just the morning he murdered his wife. The defense pointed to the difficulty Cuesta-Rodriguez had in becoming a US citizen and how he turned his life around after being released from prison on a drug conviction in 1988. The defense said that Cuesta-Rodriguez began to believe his wife was being unfaithful and a combination of depression and alcohol played a large part in the murder. The prosecution pointed to the brutality of the crime in that Cuesta-Rodriguez shot Fisher in the eye and waited eight minutes before firing the fatal shot in the other eye.
Prosecutor(s): Scott Rowland
Defense lawyer(s): Cathy Hammarsten, Cindy Viol
Sources: Oklahoman 14A 6/13/07 2007WLNR 11105381; AP Alert-Ok 6/09/07 05:09:26, 6/13/07 13:45:57

Nicholas Davis – black, age 29

Sentenced to death in Oklahoma County, Oklahoma
By: A jury
Date of crime: January 2004
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Davis was convicted of first degree murder for the killing of 17 year old Marcus Smith and was also convicted on two counts of shooting with intent to kill. Davis shot and injured his former girlfriend, Tia Green, and also shot her sister Cinetta Hooks before shooting and killing Hooks’ brother-in-law, Marcus Smith. The prosecution argued that Davis had been a violent and aggressive predator since he was young and that he had hurt people his entire life. The prosecution tried to prove the future threat of Davis by eliciting testimony from a probation officer who stated that Davis was in Corrections Department custody even though he was on parole. The defense responded that Davis’s mother moved away when he was very young and as a result Davis was not left with any structure in his life. Furthermore, the defense argued that Davis turned his life around after 8 years in prison on drug and theft charges but was simply not able to handle a relationship after being in prison for so long.
Prosecutor(s): Sandra Elliott
Defense lawyer(s): Cathy Hammarsten
Sources: Daily Oklahoman 5/17/07 2007 WLNR 9308816

Richard Rojem – white, age 26 (re-sentence after appellate reversal)

Sentenced to death in Custer County, Oklahoma
By: A judge after a unanimous recommendation from a jury
Date of crime: July 1984
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Rojem was convicted of the rape and murder of his 7 year old stepdaughter, Layla Dawn Cummings, whose body was found in a dirt field on July 7, 1984. Rojem’s first death sentence was overturned as a result of errors in the jury instructions and his second death sentence was tossed out because the judge did not dismiss an unacceptable juror. The prosecution tried to bring forth the heinousness of the crimes when they elicited testimony from Oklahoma State Bureau Investigation Agent Joe Ferraro. Ferraro described what he saw when he arrived at the scene of the crime with regard to the location of blood on the victim’s body. The defense countered by calling clinical psychologist Mark Cunningham to testify that there were risk factors in Rojem’s past that affected his decision making, specifically his father’s murder in a bar when Rojem was only 3. Other factors the defense pointed out were a sexual deformity and Rojem having grown up in an ‘alcoholic’ atmosphere.
Prosecutor(s): Dennis Smith
Defense lawyer(s): Gary Henry, Mary Bruehl
Sources: AP Alert-OK 6/05/07 07:14:44, 6/25/07 19:44:07

Kendrick Simpson – black, age 25

Sentenced to death in Oklahoma County, Oklahoma
By: A jury
Date of crime: January 2006
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Simpson was convicted of killing 20 year old Glen Palmer and 19 year old Anthony Jones, and trying to kill a third person in a drive by shooting. Simpson shot as many as 25 shots, from a military-style assault rifle, at three men after a confrontation at an Oklahoma City nightclub. Simpson’s defense pointed out that Simpson was forced to relocate to Oklahoma City following Hurricane Katrina, before moving on to the facts of his childhood. The defense argued that Simpson was the son of a single mother who was forced to turn to the streets as a result of his mother’s lack of guidance. The prosecutors were able to establish four aggravating factors including Simpson’s prior conviction for a violent crime, Simpson’s actions threatened more than one person, Simpson’s crime was heinous, and Simpson poses a continuing threat to the community.
Prosecutor(s): Steve Deutsch
Defense lawyer(s): Bill Campbell
Sources: Daily Oklahoman 10/05/07 2007 WLNR 19530124; Oklahoman 14A 10/05/07 2007 WLNR 19705780