The accused who raped and killed a 7-year-old girl was executed.

By: 600011 On: Jun 29, 2024, 3:13 PM


PP Cherian, Dallas

Mcalester (Oklahoma): A man sentenced to death for the 1984 kidnapping, rape and murder of his ex-wife's 7-year-old daughter was executed Thursday in Oklahoma. Richard Rojam, 66, who has been in prison since 1985, is Oklahoma's longest-serving death row inmate.

Oklahoma, which executed more prisoners per capita in 2014 and 2015 than any other state in the nation since reinstating the death penalty in 1976, has now carried out 13 executions since it resumed lethal injections in October 2021 after a six-year hiatus.

Richard Rojem, 66, was pronounced dead at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester at 10:16 a.m. by an intravenous injection of a mixture of three drugs, prison officials said.

Asked if he had any last words, Rojem, strapped to a gurney and sporting a tattoo on his left arm, said: "I don't. I said my goodbyes." He looked briefly at several witnesses inside a room near the death chamber before the first drug, midazolam, began to flow. About 5 minutes later, he became unconscious at 10:08 a.m. and stopped breathing at about 10:10 a.m. A spiritual advisor was in the death chamber with Rojem during the execution. Rojem had denied responsibility for killing his daughter, Lyla Cummings, born to his ex-wife.

The partially clothed body of the stabbed child was found July 7, 1984, in a field in rural Washita near the town of Burns Flat. Rojem had previously been convicted of raping two teenage girls in Michigan, and prosecutors said Rojem was angry with Laila Cummings because she reported that Rojem had sexually abused her, which prompted her divorce from the girls' mother. was obtained and returned to prison for parole violation.

In a plea for clemency this month, Rojamin's lawyers argued that DNA evidence taken from the girl's fingernails did not link him to the crime. "If my client doesn't have DNA, he shouldn't be convicted," said attorney Jack Fisher.

In a statement read by Attorney General Gentner Drummond after the execution, Lyla's mother, Mindy Lynn Cummings, said: “We will always remember, honor and cherish her as a sweet and precious 7-year-old. "Today marks the final chapter of justice delivered by three separate juries for Richard Rojemin's brutal actions nearly 40 years ago." Rojem, who testified at the hearing via video link from jail, said he was not responsible for the girl's death.

The panel voted 5-0 not to recommend the governor spare Rojemin's life. "I wasn't a good man for the first part of my life, I don't deny that," said Rojam, handcuffed and dressed in a red prison uniform. “But I went to jail. I learned my lesson and left it all behind. Prosecutors said there was plenty of evidence to convict Rojem, including fingerprints found on a cup outside the girl's apartment from the bar Rojem left shortly before she was abducted. Prosecutors said a condom wrapper found near the girl's body was linked to a condom found in Rojemin's bedroom. A Washita County jury convicted Rojem in 1985 after 45 minutes of deliberations. His previous death sentences were twice overturned by appeals courts because of trial errors. A Custer County jury finally sentenced him to a third death sentence in 2007.