The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board deliberated for less than one minute on Monday before unanimously voting against recommending clemency for death row prisoner Richard Norman Rojem Jr. 

Rojem, 66, was has been on death row for nearly four decades for the 1984 kidnapping, rape, and murder of his former stepdaughter Layla Dawn Cummings, age 7.

Rojem told the Pardon and Parole Board that he didn’t kill Cummings. His lawyer argued all of the evidence against Rojem was circumstantial. 

But Assistant Oklahoma Attorney General Jennifer Crabb told the board that the state had direct evidence linking Rojem to the crime, including a used condom with Rojem’s DNA, tire tracks that matched his vehicle, and multiple statements from his friends.

Crabb said Rojem had a history of violence, including the rapes of two teenagers in Michigan and that he had a sexual attraction towards children. She alleged Rojem continues to make sexual innuendos to prison staff while on death row.

The board also heard from Washita County District Attorney Angela Marsee, Layla’s aunt, Vicki Cummings, who appeared by Zoom, and her mother, Mindy Cummings.

A victim advocate read a statement from Mindy Cummings at the hearing. She didn’t attend in person because it was too difficult, according to her statement.

“Forty years is a very long time to see the fulfillment of justice that his horrific crime deserves. It’s a long time to be concerned about our safety as long as this monsters alive,” Mindy Cummings wrote. “Death row does not protect us from Rojem.”

Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond praised the Pardon and Parole Board’s decision in a press release.

“I am pleased the Pardon and Parole Board denied clemency for the monster who savagely raped and murdered an innocent child and caused unimaginable suffering for her family,” the release said. “Justice for Layla will be served when he is executed on June 27.”

If Rojem’s death by lethal injection goes ahead as scheduled, it will be Oklahoma’s second execution of the year.

Oklahoma executions since 2021
Oct. 28, 2021: John Marion Grant
Dec. 9, 2021: Bigler Jobe Stouffer II
Jan. 27, 2022: Donald Anthony Grant
Feb. 17, 2022: Gilbert Postelle
Aug. 25, 2022: James Allen Coddington
Oct. 20, 2022: Benjamin Cole
Nov. 17, 2022: Richard Fairchild
Jan. 12, 2023: Scott Eizember
July 20, 2023: Jemaine Cannon
Sep. 21, 2023: Anthony Sanchez
Nov. 30, 2023: Phillip Hancock
April 4, 2024: Michael DeWayne Smith