Oklahoma on Thursday executed Richard Fairchild, an ex-Marine who was convicted in the brutal 1993 killing of his girlfriend’s 3-year-old son.
Fairchild, who turned 63 the day of his execution, was convicted in 1996 of killing Adam Broomhall.
Fairchild beat Broomhall for wetting the bed, held him against a hot furnace and threw his body against a table, according to court testimony. The Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office called Broomhall’s death “torture” in a filing with the state’s Pardon and Parole Board and an autopsy report showed Broomhall suffered more than two dozen blows to the body during the beating and died of blunt-force trauma.
Fairchild, according to media witnesses, apologized to Broomhall’s family before his execution and said “Today is the day for Adam.”
“Don’t grieve for me, I’m going to meet my heavenly father,” Fairchild said from the death chamber.
One media witness said that Fairchild smiled as he gave his final statement, and the smile “didn’t leave his face” until he stopped breathing.
Fairchild is the fifth person Oklahoma has put to death this year. Only Texas, which has also executed five men this year, has put as many people to death in 2022.
The execution was the first for newly appointed director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections Steven Harpe, who told reporters there were “no complications.”
Fairchild “even mentioned how well he’s been treated by (prison) staff,” Harpe said. “It’s a horrible thing … but I’m very impressed with corrections staff.”
Michael Hurst, Broomhall’s uncle, told reporters after the execution that “from here on out, the narrative is going to be about (Adam), not about Mr. Fairchild.”
Hurst said he believes Fairchild expressed genuine remorse for the killing.
“I think there was some compassion there,” Hurst said. “I was surprised by it to be honest, because he’s (been in prison) for 30 years.”
Hurst said he had been taught his entire life that “actions had consequences.”
“We wanted him to face consequences for what he did and take responsibility for his actions,” Hurst said. “I feel like he finally did that.”
Fairchild’s attorneys have argued their client grew up in an abusive home and later suffered brain injuries as an amateur boxer and while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. During Fairchild’s clemency hearing in October, a psychologist told the Pardon and Parole Board that Fairchild had been diagnosed as schizophrenic when he was younger and that his mental condition had only worsened over time.
His attorneys said in a court filing late Wednesday that Fairchild “is completely out of touch with reality” after 25 years in prison. One attorney said in a statement in October that Fairchild “remains remorseful for his crime” despite his mental health struggles.
During Fairchild’s clemency hearing, one of Broomhall’s relatives read a letter written by the child’s now-deceased grandmother.
“I beg you, show no mercy to a man who could torture a child,” the letter said.
Fairchild did not appear at that hearing and the board voted against recommending clemency.
Julius Jones, whose sentence was reduced to life without the possibility of parole, is the only man on death row that Gov. Kevin Stitt has granted mercy since the state resumed executions in 2021.
Fairchild is the seventh since the state resumed executions following a series of mistakes in the executions of Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner in 2014 and 2015.
He is the 16th person executed in the U.S. this year, according to the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center. Two men were executed on Wednesday, one in Texas and one in Arizona. Alabama has an execution set for Thursday.
Oklahoma’s next scheduled execution is set for Jan. 12, 2023, when the state intends to put Scott Eizember to death. Eizember was convicted in 2005 for killing A.J. Cantrell during a botched burglary.
Oklahoma had planned to kill death row prisoners Richard Glossip and John Hanson in December, but both executions have met snags.
Stitt signed an executive order pushing Glossip’s execution back to Feb. 16, 2023. An Oklahoma appeals court on Thursday ruled against Glossip’s attempt to gain a new evidentiary hearing.
Glossip is sentenced to death for the 1997 death of his boss, motel-owner Barry Van Treese. Another man, Justin Sneed, was convicted of killing Van Treese and was sentenced to life in prison. Sneed testified that Glossip paid him to kill Van Treese.
Hanson is in federal custody in Louisiana and federal officials have said they will not release him to Oklahoma for execution. Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler, along with lame-duck Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor, have sued the federal government in an attempt to gain custody of Hanson to carry out his execution. Hanson was sentenced to death in Oklahoma for the 1999 killings of Mary Bowles and Jerald Thurman.
Oklahoma executions since 2021
Oct. 28, 2021: John Marion Grant
Dec. 9, 2021: Bigler Jobe Stouffer II
Jan. 27: Donald Anthony Grant
Feb. 17: Gilbert Postelle
Aug. 25: James Allen Coddington
Oct. 20: Benjamin Cole
Nov. 17: Richard Fairchild