OKLAHOMA----impending execution

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OKLAHOMA----impending execution

Post  Jennie on Tue Jun 17, 2008 11:32 pm

OKLAHOMA----impending execution

Short to die tonight for city firebomb killing

Ken Yamamoto had been busy preparing for his final semester at Oklahoma City University in January 1995 when a firebomb tore through an apartment at the south Oklahoma City complex where he lived.

Investigators believe Yamamoto was sleeping when the blaze erupted in the early morning hours on Jan. 8, 1995. By the time he awoke and tried to escape, the entire unit was engulfed in flames.

When rescue workers reached him, his body was covered with severe burns. He died less than 2 days later at an Oklahoma City hospital.

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, the man responsible for Yamamoto's death 47-year-old Terry Lyn Short is scheduled to die by lethal injection at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.

Short's will be the 1st execution in Oklahoma since Aug. 21, when Frank Duane Welch was executed for the killing of a Norman woman.

Executions throughout the country were suspended after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed in September to consider a challenge from two Kentucky prisoners who questioned the constitutionality of lethal injection procedures. When the court upheld the method in April, the defacto moratorium was lifted and executions resumed.

Short, who had maintained his innocence, acknowledged during a clemency hearing last month that he threw the firebomb, but claimed he did not intend to kill Yamamoto, whom he did not know. It was the 1st time Short had admitted publicly that he threw a gasoline-filled bottle into the apartment where 5 people, including 2 children, were living.

Short said he had been up for 2 days on a drug-induced binge and didn't remember many details of the crime. The 5-member Pardon and Parole Board unanimously rejected his clemency bid.

Yamamoto, who came to Oklahoma as an exchange student from Japan in 1989, graduated from Del City High School.

Ellen Martin, a close friend of Yamamoto, described him as quiet and shy when he first arrived in Oklahoma from Japan.

"But the longer he was here, the more vibrant he became and he got more and more excited about being in America," Martin said. "He bleached his hair blonde. He loved rock 'n' roll.

"That was what he wanted to be he wanted to be that American teenager who listened to rock 'n' roll music, and he blossomed into that person."

Yamamoto was sleeping in his apartment directly above Short's ex-girlfriend, Brenda Gardner. The firebomb exploded into Gardner's apartment and severely burned Robert Hines, who was staying at the apartment, before engulfing the unit in flames. Yamamoto, who apparently tried to escape the burning building, fell through the floor into the downstairs apartment.

Yamamoto survived for about 30 hours, long enough for his mother to fly from Japan and be by his side before he died.

(source: Associated Press)

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