Death Row hammer killer executed after lawyers reject last ditch mercy plea

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A man who murdered his friend while high has been executed by lethal injection on Oklahoma's merciless Death Row.

James Coddington, 50, who hammered Albert Hale to death in 1997, had a final attempt to spare his life rejected just 24 hours before being served up his last meal.

The murderer who was bottle-fed booze as a kid, lashed out at Hale 25 years ago after his request for £42 ($50) to spend on cocaine was turned down.

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This week the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board said the murder was addiction-driven and recommended Coddington was taken off Death Row and his sentence to be commuted to life without parole.

Sadly for the convict, the state's governor declined to grant clemency even after a heart-breaking five-minute plea for his life at the parole hearing, Coddington said: "I can’t apologise enough for what I did.”

Adding that Hale was "one of my friends", he said he was trying to help him through his dark times by not giving him the cash.

"And for that, he lost his life," Coddington added.

A brief statement from the governor's office said: "After thoroughly reviewing arguments and evidence presented by all sides of the case, Governor Kevin Stitt has denied the Pardon and Parole Board's clemency recommendation for James Allen Coddington."

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Emma Rolls who has been fighting for the 50-year-old to come of Death Row said the inmate and his legal team were "profoundly disheartened" by the decision, but appreciated the parole board's "careful consideration".

She accepted its clemency recommendation "acknowledged James's sincere remorse and meaningful transformation during his years on death row."

Ms Rolls told CNN: "James is loved by many people and he has touched the hearts of many. He is a good man."

During his two decades on the row, Coddington has been a model prisoner and worked to redeem himself, his lawyer argued.

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Prison staff, including former Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Justin Jones, have also signed a petition appealing for the sentence to be commuted.

Lawyers argued Coddington's behaviour was a result of his impaired mental state, due to his drug use.

His severely-impaired mental state left him without the faculties to develop intent for the killing, a requirement for a first-degree murder charge.

These mitigating factors were not shared during the trial, meaning the jury made their decision without being given the opportunity to consider the full extent of the impairment.

Coddington was raised by an alcoholic and drug-addled dad who filled his children's bottles with booze, the board learned.

The convict started his own journey into addiction when he was just a child, battling substance abuse for years before Hale's murder at 24. He finally got clean while in prison.

Coddington's execution kicks off a monthly slaying schedule in Oklahoma for the next two years which will halve the state's number of Death Row inmates.

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