After Early Release, Man Killed 3, Officials Say
The authorities said an Oklahoma man whose prison sentence had been commuted had cut out and cooked the heart of a woman and tried to feed it to his relatives before killing two of them.
This month, an Oklahoma man released early from jail broke into the home of a woman, cut her heart out, cooked it, and tried to feed it to his relatives, and then killed two of them, the authorities said this week.
The man, Lawrence Paul Anderson, who was accused of three counts of first-degree murder in the killings, was sentenced in 2017 to 20 years in prison for a probation violation in a drug case, but public records show that the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board granted him clemency last year as part of a mass commutation program.
His sentence was reduced to nine years, but he was only required to serve three years, and in January he was released.
Attorneys are now questioning how Mr. Anderson, 42, who had been jailed several times before, became eligible for a sentence commutation that requires the approval of the governor. During a news conference on Tuesday, the district attorney in charge of the case said that he might seek the death penalty for Mr. Anderson.
"When is enough?" said Jason Hicks, the Grady County district attorney. "We have put public safety in the face of politics and the release of inmates."
Mr. Anderson forced his way into the Chickasha, Okla., home of Andrea Lynn Blankenship, 41, on or shortly before Feb. 9, about three weeks after his release from prison, killing her and cutting her heart out, according to an affidavit for a search warrant. The body of Ms. Blankenship bore stab wounds and showed signs of trauma from blunt force, the authorities said.
"Mr. Anderson told investigators that on Feb. 9, he had taken the heart of Ms. Blankenship across the street to his aunt and uncle's house, cooked it with potatoes, and tried to feed it to them, the affidavit said, "to release the demons.
On Feb. 9, Mr. Anderson then attacked the couple and their four-year-old granddaughter, killing his uncle, Leon Pye, 67, and his granddaughter, Kaeos Yates, both of whom were stabbed and showed signs of trauma with blunt force, the authorities said. Investigators said that Mr. Anderson's aunt, who called 911, survived the attack but suffered stab wounds to both of her eyes.
That day, Mr. Anderson was taken into custody at his aunt and uncle's home and hospitalized for an extensive hand cut that required surgery. Mr. Anderson revealed on Feb. 11, two days after the killings of his uncle and cousin, that he had also killed his neighbor, Ms. Blankenship, the authorities said. About 40 miles southwest of Oklahoma City is Chickasha.
According to court records, in addition to the murder counts, Mr. Anderson was charged this week with assault and battery with a deadly weapon and maiming. They denied him bail.
Investigators said they confiscated pots and pans from Mr. Anderson's aunt and uncle's home as proof.
The Associated Press reported that Al Hoch, a lawyer for Mr. Anderson, did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but said during a court appearance on Tuesday that he would seek a mental assessment to determine if Mr. Anderson was competent to stand trial.
The office of Gov. J. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma, a Republican, referred questions to the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board about Mr. Anderson's sentence commutation, which on Wednesday night did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In Oklahoma, according to the board's website, at least three of the five members of the state parole board must favorably recommend an inmate for commutation. The applications are then submitted for final approval by the governor. According to their biographies on the board's website, three of the board's current members were appointed by Mr. Stitt to the panel.
On Tuesday, Mr. Hicks, the district attorney, said Mr. Anderson was one of 600 applicants whose commutation cases were reviewed in January 2020 by the parole board over three days.
I really believe that if someone has the record that he has, an offender such as this should not have been able to apply for commutation," he said." "We should never have heard that request."