published Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Oklahoma man executed in woman’s 1979 slaying

McALESTER, Okla. — An Oklahoma death row inmate convicted of first-degree murder in the shooting death of a 25-year-old Korean national 34 years ago was executed Tuesday.

Anthony Rozelle Banks, 61, was pronounced dead at 6:07 p.m. after receiving a lethal injection of drugs at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. Banks is the fourth Oklahoma death row inmate to be executed this year. About five people protested the execution at the governor’s mansion in Oklahoma City.

Banks was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death by a Tulsa County jury for the June 6, 1979, killing of Sun “Kim” Travis. Banks was already serving a life prison sentence for his conviction in the April 11, 1978, slaying of a Tulsa convenience store clerk during an armed robbery when he was linked to Travis’ death by DNA evidence 18 years after her death.

Travis was abducted from the parking lot of a Tulsa apartment complex and later raped and shot in the head. Her partially clothed body was found in a roadside ditch on the city’s north side the morning after her disappearance.

Banks and a co-defendant, Allen Wayne Nelson, 54, were charged in August 1997, when their DNA was detected in evidence found on Travis’ body and clothing. A 12-member jury convicted Nelson of first-degree murder and sentenced him to life in prison.

Banks was already in prison following his conviction for the 1978 slaying of David Fremin, who was shot and killed during an armed robbery. Banks was convicted of first-degree murder by a Tulsa County jury that imposed the death penalty in that case.

But the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new trial in 1994, saying prosecutors failed to disclose evidence to the defense that the jury could have used to find Banks innocent. The court also said Banks received ineffective counsel. Rather than face the possibility of being sentenced to death again, Banks pleaded guilty to the murder charge in exchange for a sentence of life in prison.

In July, Banks waived his right to ask the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board to commute his death sentence to life in prison.

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