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Oscar Smith Given Temporary Reprieve Ahead of Tennessee Execution on April 21, 2022

Oscar Smith, Tennessee

May 3, 2022

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has halted all 2022 execution in the state to allow for an independent investigation into the lethal injection testing oversight that resulted in a temporary reprieve earlier this year.  Governor Lee maintains that he supports the use of capital punishment and wants to ensure any operational failures within the Tennessee Department of Corrections are addressed before moving forward with executions.

Updated: Thursday, April 21, 2022

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has granted a temporary reprieve to the Oscar Smith.  Oscar was scheduled to be executed later this evening on April 21, 2022.  According to a press released, the execution was halted “due to an oversight in preparation for lethal injection.”

Updated: Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has rejected a request for clemency from Oscar Smith.

Updated: Monday, April 18, 2022

Oscar SmithOscar Franklin Smith is scheduled to be executed at 7:10 pm local time, on Thursday, April 21, 2022, at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institute in Nashville, Tennessee. Seventy-two-year-old Oscar is convicted of murdering his estranged wife, 35-year-old Judy Robirds Smith, and her two sons, 13-year-old Jason Burnett and 16-year-old Chad Burnett on October 1, 1989, in Nashville, Tennessee. Oscar has spent the last 20 years on Tennessee’s death row.

On October 1, 1989, around 11:20 pm, the police in Tennessee received an emergency call from the home of Judy Smith. Police officers arrived at her home approximately five minutes later. They were unable to see or hear anything unusual. A knock to the front door went unanswered, and police assumed it was a false call.

The next afternoon, the bodies of Judy Smith and her two sons, Jason and Chad, were found dead inside the home. Judy was the estranged wife of Oscar, and Jason and Chad were Oscar’s step-sons. A medical examiner determined that they had died at least 12 hours before their bodies were found.

Oscar was picked up by the police later that day. Oscar never asked why he was being questioned. He referred to his wife in the past tense, before being told about her death. Oscar alleged that he had spent October 1 with Judy, leaving around 9:30 pm, to take their twin boys back to his home. Then he drove to Kentucky for an early morning meeting with a client. However, a neighbor reported seeing Oscar’s vehicle outside of Judy’s home around 11 pm. During his interview with the police, Oscar showed no emotion and had abrasions on his hand, elbow, back, and shoulder blade.

During Oscar’s trial, the initial emergency call was enhanced and Judy can be heard shouting “Frank, no. God, help me!” before the call abruptly ends. Additionally, the police found a bloody handprint on the sheet next to Judy’s body. The handprint was later identified as matching Oscar’s handprint, with two missing middle fingers. Oscar had also recently taken out life insurance policies on Judy, Jason, and Chad. Finally, Oscar had, before the murders, made several, repeated threats to kill and commit other acts of violence against the victims, including asking a coworker to murder Judy, Chad, and Jason, and offering to pay them.

Oscar’s was previously scheduled to be executed on June 4, 2020. The execution was later rescheduled to February 4, 2021, after his lawyers filed an appeal, claiming that the coronavirus pandemic interfered with their ability to work on the case and prepare a clemency hearing for Oscar. The Tennessee Supreme Court stayed the February execution date, which was then rescheduled.

According to state law, inmates sentenced to death before 1999 are eligible to choose between lethal injection and electrocution as their method of execution.  Lethal injection is also the default method of execution in Tennessee.  As Oscar did not choose a method of execution, the Tennessee Department of Corrections has confirmed the execution, if carried out, will be done through lethal injection.

The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals rejected a request from Oscar to reopen his case due to the discovery of unknown DNA on the murder weapon. The Court ruled against Oscar, stating that he has not “presented new scientific evidence establishing that he is actually innocent.” Oscar’s attorney then filed a request with the Tennessee Supreme Court to halt Oscar’s execution to give lower courts a chance to review the new evidence. According to the testing, the new DNA does not match Oscar or any of his three victims.

Please pray for peace for the family of Judy, Chad, and Jason. Please pray for strength for the family of Oscar. Pray that if Oscar is innocent, lacks the competency to be executed, or should not be executed for any other reason, that evidence will be provided before his execution. Pray that Oscar may come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

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