Oklahoma executes Anthony Sanchez for 1996 murder

Oklahoma executed Anthony Sanchez on Thursday, years after his conviction for the 1996 murder of 21-year-old University of Oklahoma dance student Juli Busken, according to multiple reports.

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Officials in McAlester pronounced Sanchez, 44, dead at 10:19 a.m., KOCO-TV reported. Busken’s family did not attend his execution, officials with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections said, according to the news station.

In a statement obtained by KOCO, Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Dummond said, “Justice was served today for Juli Busken nearly 27 years after her life tragically was taken.”

“My hope is that today can bring some measure of peace to her family and friends,” he added.

Authorities found Busken shot to death at the edge of Lake Stanley Draper in 1996 after she was abducted from an apartment complex in Norman, according to KOSU and court records. She had been raped, and testing years later linked DNA from semen stains found on her clothing to Sanchez.

At the time, Sanchez was serving a sentence for an unrelated burglary.

He long maintained his innocence and claimed that his father, Thomas Sanchez, confessed to the crime before he committed suicide in 2022, according to KOSU. However, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation determined that Thomas Sanchez was not Busken’s killer following DNA testing in February, The Oklahoman reported.

“I’m innocent,” Sanchez told reporters while inside the death chamber on Thursday, according to The Associated Press. “I didn’t kill nobody.”

In June, Sanchez declined to ask for clemency, saying that even if the state Pardon and Parole Board approved of it, Gov. Kevin Stitt was unlikely to grant it, KOSU reported.

“I’ve sat in my cell and I’ve watched inmate after inmate after inmate get clemency and get denied clemency,” he told the AP. “Either way, it doesn’t go well for the inmates.”

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals unanimously denied his appeal in April, KOSU reported.

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