Gov. Brad Henry (D) commuted the death sentence of a convicted murderer from Mexico to life without parole Thursday in a case in which state and foreign officials said the inmate's life should be spared.
Henry's decision came the day the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals voted 3 to 2 to give Osbaldo Torres an indefinite stay of execution. The court granted Torres's request for a lower-court hearing on the state's failure to inform him of his right to contact the Mexican Consulate after his arrest.
The governor's decision, which makes the appeals court's decision moot, came after the Pardon and Parole Board recommended clemency for Torres on May 7. Torres had been scheduled to die next Tuesday for the 1993 deaths of Francisco Morales and Maria Yanez.
"My heart goes out to the family of Mr. Morales and Ms. Yanez," Henry said in a statement. "This was a difficult decision, but I believe clemency is warranted by a number of issues involved in this case."
Torres, 29, is one of 51 Mexicans on death rows nationwide cited in a March 31 ruling by the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The world court found that the inmates' rights were violated because they were not told they could receive help from their governments as guaranteed by the 1963 Vienna Convention.
Mexican officials urged the state not to execute Torres, and the European Union also had asked that the execution be stayed.
Henry said he made his decision after hearing arguments from the state attorney general's office, Torres's appellate defense attorneys and the victims' relatives.