Oklahoma carries out first execution of 2024

MCALESTER, Okla. (KFOR) – The state carried out its first execution of 2024 Thursday morning.

The state of Oklahoma executed Michael Smith at 10:20 a.m. on April 4, 2024, in McAlester, after he was convicted of murdering a 40-year-old mother, Janet Moore, and a 22-year-old store clerk, Sharath Pulluru, in two separate incidents on February 22, 2002.

RELATED STORY: Michael Smith clemency rejected, makes final plea

Smith was denied clemency by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board by a 4-1 vote in March.

During the hearing in March, prosecutors laid out how Smith shot Moore and then shot Pulluru. They played a video of Smith’s confession to police in which he said “I didn’t come there to kill that woman. She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

In another clip, Smith is seen motioning as to how he shot Moore, “she panicked and she got shot. She was like ‘help, help, help.’”

In the clips, Smith is seen describing the killing of Pulluru as well, “He’s like, let me see your money so I pulled my gun out and shot his a**. I was like blah, blah, blah.” Smith can be heard making gunshot noises several times.

RELATED STORY: Family advocates for loved one on death row

Smith’s family argued the confession should be thrown out because not only was Smith high on the drug PCP but he was also mentally incapable of telling the truth.

In a phone interview with KFOR in March, Smith said ”despite the conviction there are numerous inconsistencies and irregularities in my case, from representation issues in my trial and questionable interrogation process. Just that I’m sorry for their loss, and I’m not the person that killed their family members.”

According to Attorney General Gentner Drummond’s Office, at the time of the murders, Smith was already a fugitive on the run for a previous killing. He is among just 10 percent of death row inmates in the U.S. who have killed multiple victims.

RELATED STORY: Oklahoma death row inmate pleads his case before scheduled execution

“I am pleased the Pardon and Parole Board denied clemency for the ruthless killer who took Janet Moore and Sharath Pulluru away from their families,” said AG Drummond. “Justice will finally be served for their tragic loss.”

This was the 12th lethal injection since Oklahoma resumed executions in October 2021 after a nearly six-year hiatus.

“I pray that today brings some measure of peace for the families of Janet Miller-Moore and Sharath Pulluru. It has been a long and difficult 22 years for their loved ones, and my heart aches over the agony they have endured.

“I want the people of Oklahoma to know that the victims of Michael Smith were good and decent people who did not deserve their fate. Janet, a loving mother and dedicated hospital staffer, was a rock for her family. She was always willing to lend a hand to anyone in need, an ear to anyone who needed to feel heard, and a kind word to anyone who was struggling.

“Sharath, a bright young man with a generous spirit, was the first in his family to come to the United States to pursue an education. He was fun to be around, was an inspiration to his family, and had a promising future.

“Janet and Sharath were murdered simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time; that was all. I am grateful that justice has been served.”

Gentner Drummond, Oklahoma Attorney General

The Smith family has also released a statement following Thursday’s execution.

The Smith family would like to thank God first and all the supporters who stood with us until the very end. And to let the public know the fight is not over. No man or woman should have their life ended in this way! We will continue to fight against this inhumane way of punishment. And also make aware of the ineffective counsel that’s provided by the Oklahoma Public Defender’s Office. Those lawyers provide little or no help at all to save their clients life. This has happened in several death penalty cases most of the time by the exact same cancel. This has to be stopped!

Family of Michael Smith

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