Michael Selsor is pictured above. The photograph is courtesy of Fault Line Productions
Today, May 1, 2012, members of the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (OK-CADP) and others will stand in silent vigil for death row prisoner Michael Bascum Selsor outside the Governor’s Mansion at 820 NE 23rd Street, from 5:15 pm until they receive notice of a stay of execution, or until the execution is carried out.
On Tuesday, May 1 2012, Michael Bascum Selsor is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection at 6 p.m. Selsor’s will be the third execution in Oklahoma this year if there is no reprieve.
OK-CADP co chair, Lydia Polley said, “As we stand behind our “Don’t Kill for Me” banner to bring public attention to Mike Selsor’s state sanctioned & financed homicide, we also grieve with the victim’s family and hope that they somehow find solace. They are in our thoughts and prayers along with Mike, his legal team, his friends on death row, and those who have to carry out this act.”
In 1976, Michael Selsor was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Clayton Chandler in 1975. During Selsor’s first trial, he was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. He appealed and won a retrial. During the second trail, he was found guilty and sentenced to death.
Selsor based his appeal for a second trial on a case called Riggs v. Branch. Whereas before, under that decision, the only punishment for his crime was life imprisonment.
It was a court of criminal appeals decision that came out in 1976. The courts overruled this after Selsor won his challenge to their conviction. They reconsidered the decision and said they were no longer going to follow it. Relying on that, he challenged the conviction, but his lawyers had a conflict of interest. They didn’t just represent Selsor, they were required to represent his co-defendant Dodson as well. He had good legal reasons to challenge his conviction. He also thought that the maximum penalty if he failed would be a life sentence. Riggs v. Branch said exactly that. But after his appeal succeeded the court of appeals overruled Riggs v. Branch in his case, and said that he was subject to the death penalty. Eventually that was the decision.
“They reconsidered their decision, which of course they have the right to do, but they didn’t give him a chance to reconsider his decision,” said Gary Peterson, Selsor’s attorney. “As I look at it, he basically swapped a life sentence for a death sentence and didn’t really find out what he was getting into until after he’d made the trade.”
In 1976, Oklahoma’s death penalty was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals adjusted Selsor’s sentence to life without the possibility of parole. In 1996, the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Selsor’s conviction. During a retrial in 1998, Selsor was again convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death.
Recently, on April 16, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted 4 to 1 to deny clemency to Selsor.
During that hearing, via teleconference from McAlester, Selsor asked, “Is it too late to say I’m sorry?” Selsor added, “I am truly sorry for the suffering and damage I have caused.”
Barring an act of mercy by Gov. Mary Fallin, Michael Bascom Selsor, a 57 year old death row prisoner who has been incarcerated for 37 years, will be executed at 6 p.m., on Tuesday, May 1, at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.
Upon Selsor’s passing, the state will issue a death certificate as it does for every person who dies in Oklahoma. For Michael Selsor, the cause of death will be listed as homicide, which is the deliberate and unlawful killing of one person by another.
“When someone is executed by the state, she or he is killed in my name,” said Margaret Cox, OK-CADP board member. “We all hold a responsibility not to let that happen. This action should not go unnoticed by the people of Oklahoma.”
For more information about the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty visit www.okcadp.org.