Oklahoma death row inmate Michael Smith: They’re executing the wrong man

  • Michael Smith was found guilty of two 2002 murders
  • Execution date set for April 4
  • Spiritual adviser: He wants to preserve life

(NewsNation) — Despite being found guilty of two 2002 murders, Oklahoma death row inmate Michael Smith is determined to prove his innocence before his scheduled execution April 4.

Smith told “Banfield” producer Chris Moloney he gave false confessions when questioned about the 40-year-old mother and 24-year-old store clerk who were killed at the time. Prosecutors have said that the evidence against Smith is overwhelming.

When asked about the appropriate punishment for such crimes, Smith didn’t give a direct answer.

“I couldn’t imagine any kind of punishment on another man. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy,” Smith said.

Rev. Jeff Hood, Smith’s spiritual adviser, told NewsNation host Ashleigh Banfield that Smith’s behavior is misunderstood.

“It’s an interesting moment. We’re talking about someone the state plans to kill. He’s doing what he can to preserve life. I see this with a lot of guys that I work with,” Hood said. “Smith is trying to fill his life, whatever life he has left, with life.”

This comes as a shortage of lethal injection drugs and controversial executions are fueling debates surrounding the methods and justification of capital punishment.

Twenty-seven states in the U.S. have the death penalty.  Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri, which are responsible for the most prison executions per capita since 1976, according to the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center.

Five states — Alabama, Florida, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas — carried out executions last year.

The public’s opinion is shifting, too. Half of Americans say the death penalty is administered unfairly, according to the findings of a November Gallup poll. That’s compared to 47% who said the practices are fair. Still, a plurality of voters say the death penalty isn’t used enough.

Banfield

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