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Appeals Court Reverses Oklahoma Man’s Death Sentence

A federal appeals court has overturned the death sentence of a man from Oklahoma City who was convicted of killing his common-law wife and her fetus. The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals found that Victor Wayne Hooks did not receive effective counsel in 1989, when he was sentenced for the 1988 beating death of …

A federal appeals court has overturned the death sentence of a man from Oklahoma City who was convicted of killing his common-law wife and her fetus. The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals found that Victor Wayne Hooks did not receive effective counsel in 1989, when he was sentenced for the 1988 beating death of Shalimein Blaine. Hooks was sentenced to 500 years in prison for the death of the fetus. Not only is capital punishment legal in Oklahoma, but OK is one of the leading states in the number of performed executions, behind Texas and Virginia, and leads in the number of executions per capita. If you have been charged with a crime in Oklahoma that warrants a death sentence, contact our experienced criminal defense attorneys at Oklahoma Legal Center to explore your legal options.

Oklahoma Death Penalty and Appeals

In Oklahoma, a sentence of death has an automatic appeal to the Oklahoma Court of Appeals, where they review the following:

  • Whether the death sentence was imposed under the influence of prejudice, passion, or any other arbitrary factor
  • Whether the evidence supports the judge or jury’s finding of a statutory aggravating circumstance

In addition to its authority regarding correction of errors, the court is authorized to affirm the death sentence or set the sentence aside and remand the case for resentencing by the trial court. According to the appeals court in this case, Hooks’ attorney in 1989 failed to thoroughly examine the man’s background, which included abuse as a child and a head injury he sustained in a car accident. The court also said Hooks’ attorney failed to properly prepare a defense psychiatrist for the case. Diane Clay, a spokeswoman for the state attorney general, said state attorneys will spend the next several days reviewing the 1989 ruling.

Contact an OK Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Since 1976, the state of Oklahoma has executed 99 individuals convicted of murder, all of which were executed by lethal injection. Although there is a possibility of a death sentence being overturned, such as is the case with Victor Wayne Hooks, this isn’t a typical outcome. If you are facing charges in Oklahoma for a crime that may be punishable by death, such as murder, your first course of action should be to enlist the help of a qualified criminal defense attorney in Oklahoma City. Even if you aren’t given the death penalty, the prison sentence and other consequences associated with a serious offense in Oklahoma can adversely affect the rest of your life. With the help of our skilled criminal defense lawyers at Oklahoma Legal Center, individuals being charged with a serious crime in Oklahoma can protect their legal rights and build a strong defense in their case.

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