Monday, April 15, 2024

Oklahoma Stays Execution of Richard Rojem, Jr., Before October 5, 2023

Richard Rojem, Jr., Oklahoma

Updated: Thursday, October 5, 2023

Earlier this year, Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond requested that all Oklahoma executions be rescheduled at least 60 days apart.  The state had over a dozen executions scheduled, approximately one month apart.  Due to understaffing and the amount of preparation time necessary for execution, Drummond requested that the execution scheduled be altered.  The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals granted the request and seven executions were immediately rescheduled.  The remaining executions were “not confirmed” and would be addressed “at an appropriate time in the future.”

Updated: Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Richard Rojem, Jr., was scheduled to be executed at 10 a.m. local time on Thursday, October 5, 2023, inside the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Oklahoma.  His execution has been delayed.  Sixty-five-year-old Richard is convicted of raping and murdering his seven-year-old stepdaughter Layla Dawn Cummings on either July 6 or 7, 1984, in Washita County, Oklahoma.  For the last  38 years, Richard has been on death row in Oklahoma.

Sometime between 10 p.m. on July 6, 1984, and 1:15 a.m. on July 7, 1984, Layla Cummings was kidnapped from the apartment where she lived with her mother and brother. Layla’s mother was at work that night when she received a notification from the person watching the apartment that Layla was missing.

Layla’s body was found by a farmer in a plowed field on the morning of July 7, 1984. The farmer stayed at least 10 feet from the body after discovering it. Next to Layla’s body, police discovered a condom wrappings.

An autopsy determined that Layla had two large stab wounds to her neck which severed a major artery and pierced a lung. Physical evidence also suggested that she had been raped.

Later that day police searched the bedroom of Richard Rojem, Jr. Rojem had divorced Layla’s mother two months before her disappearance and death. Rojem knew the mother’s work schedule and that the lock to the apartment was broken and would not lock. The apartment where Layla was sleeping had no sign of forced entry. Police eventually recovered a beer cup within 25 feet of the apartment that had Rojem’s fingerprints on it.

On the evening of July 6, Rojem had been drinking at a local bar. The bar sold condoms that matched the wrappings found near Layla’s body. Just before leaving, Rojem was seen entering the bathroom, where the condoms were located. Additionally, a search of Rojem’s residence found a used condom in the trash.

Rojem was arrested, charged, and convicted of kidnapping, rape, and murder. He was sentenced to death.

His execution has been delayed and will be rescheduled at a future date.

Please pray for the family of Layla Cummings. Pray for strength for the family of Richard Rojem. Pray that if Richard 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. Please pray that Richard will find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

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