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Death Penalty for Gang-Related Murders: Michael Dewayne Smith’s Case Highlights Capital Punishment Dilemmas (video)

The US state of Oklahoma has carried out its first execution for 2024, giving a lethal injection to a man convicted of a double murder.

Michael Dewayne Smith was 19 when he killed Janet Moore and Sharath Babu Pulluru during a drug-fuelled crime spree in Oklahoma City in 2002.

When asked if he had any last words, Smith, 41, said: “Nah, I’m good.”

He is the 12th person to be executed in Oklahoma since the state resumed carrying out death penalties in 2021.

The nearly seven-year hiatus came after a series of problems arose during executions.

In 2014, a condemned prisoner writhed in apparent pain for 43 minutes before dying from a heart attack. The next year, a prisoner being executed told witnesses “it feels like acid” and “my body is on fire”.

Smith’s murders were committed while he was already on the run for a shooting death a year earlier.

Janet Moore was killed when he went to her house looking for her son, who Smith believed to be a police informant.

In a separate attack, Sarath Babu Pulluru was killed when Smith mistook him for another convenience store clerk who had made comments to a local newspaper about Smith’s criminal gang.

Smith died within minutes of receiving the lethal cocktail of three drugs, according to reporters who witnessed it at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.

He was pronounced dead at 10:20 ET on Thursday, the Department of Corrections confirmed to CBS News, the BBC’s media partner in the US.

Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond released a statement after Smith was declared dead, saying: “I am grateful that justice has been served.”

The family of Janet Moore also released a statement declaring that “justice has been served” and thanking authorities for pursuing the punishment over the past 22 years.

“It does not go unnoticed or in vain, as we were constantly reminded this is justice for a loss that has caused a ripple for generations to come,” the family wrote.

Sharath Babu Pulluru’s family said in a statement that Sharath “will forever live in our hearts.”

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