Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Oklahoma Executes Michael Smith on April 4, 2024

Michael Smith, Oklahoma

Updated: Thursday, April 4, 2024

On Thursday, April 4, 2024, Michael Smith was executed by the state of Oklahoma.  He was pronounced dead at 10:20 am local time, inside the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Oklahoma.  Michael was 41 years of age.  He was convicted of murdering 40-year-old Janet Moore and 24-year-old Sarath “Babu” Pulluru, on February 22, 2002, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  Michael has spent the last 20 years of his life on death row in Oklahoma.

Michael Smith grew up in a violent neighborhood, rife with gang and drug activity. After his father died, Michael had difficulties coming to terms with his death. Michael began abusing alcohol and becoming more involved with gang activities.

Michael Smith was a member of the Oak Grove Posse, a subset of the Oklahoma City Crisps gang. In November of 2000, three members of the OGP attempted to rob a convenience store in Oklahoma City. One of the gang members was shot and killed by the store owner. Smith was not involved in the robbery but was close to the gang member killed. The other two gang members were eventually arrested. Their trial was set for February 2002.

Two days before the trial was scheduled to begin, Smith tracked down a man he believed to be a police informant. Smith broke into the apartment of Janet Moore. Her son was the man Smith believe to be a police informant. Smith kicked in the door and shot Janet to death when she began screaming. Before leaving, Smith wiped down the apartment to avoid leaving any fingerprints.

Smith then went to a convenience store directly next to the one his fellow gang members attempted to rob. He shot to death the clerk on duty, Sarath Pulluru, and took money from the cash drawer. He then used lighter fluid to set the store on fire, along with Sarath’s body, in an attempt to remove evidence. Smith then disposed of the clothing he had been wearing and returned home, where he told his roommate what had happened. A few hours later, Smith went to the home of Sheena Johnson and told her what he did.

Sheena later reported her conversation with Smith to the police. By the time Sheena reported Smith, he had already been arrested on a different matter. After waiving his Miranda rights, police interviewed Smith about the murder of Janet and Sarath. After initially denying involvement, Smith confessed. He claimed he committed the murders “in retaliation for wrongs done him or his family.”

Smith was charged, convicted, and sentenced to death.

This was not Michael Smith’s first execution date.  Michael was previously scheduled to be executed on Thursday, July 6, 2023.  His execution was rescheduled at the request of Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond in order to allow more time for the prison staff to prepare for the execution.

Please pray for the families of Janet Moore and Sarath Pulluru. Pray for strength for the family of Michael Smith. 

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