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Jerald Harjo, 1992

Mental status cited in sentencing hearing

McALESTER -- Convicted killer Sammy Van Woudenberg is mentally incompetent and shouldn't be executed at this time, according to his attorneys and the state attorney general's office.

Expert witnesses for the state and for Van Woudenberg both concluded that he shouldn't be executed because of his mental status, said Gerald Adams, spokesman for the attorney general's office. Testimony on the issue was heard Tuesday in Pittsburg County District Court.

District Judge Steven Taylor will make a final decision on the question at a future date.

Adams said prosecutors sought an execution date for Van Woudenberg in February.

Van Woudenberg, 42, and Terrance James were convicted of strangling Mark Berry, 25, in the Muskogee jail in 1983. At the time of the murder, Van Woudenberg was being held on a federal kidnapping charge.

Updated: 18 July 2001 Website by