Bigler Stouffer II Executed in Oklahoma for 1985 Shooting Death of Teacher Linda Reaves

The state of Oklahoma executed Bigler Stouffer II by lethal injection on Thursday morning for the 1985 killing of teacher Linda Reaves.

Stouffer, 79, was pronounced dead at 10:16 a.m. after receiving a lethal three-drug injection at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.

"My request is that my father forgive them. Thank you," Stouffer said in his final words.

Stouffer was denied a stay of execution, and a final appeal made to the U.S. Supreme Court was rejected less than two hours before he was scheduled to receive the lethal injection.

Stouffer was the first person to be executed in Oklahoma since the October incident during John Grant's execution when he convulsed and vomited after receiving the lethal injection.

Executions in Oklahoma are typically done later in the day, said Josh Ward, spokesman for the Department of Corrections. They decided to transition Stouffer's execution to the morning, so it's easier to return to a typical day.

Stouffer has always professed his innocence in the killing of Reaves, who was shot three times. Her then-boyfriend, Doug Ivens, was seriously injured during the incident.

"I am totally innocent of the murder of Linda Reaves and my heart goes out to the family of Linda Reaves that have suffered as a result of her murder," he told the board.

Bigler Stouffer II, Lethal Injection, Oklahoma
Above, this undated photo provided by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections shows Bigler Jobe Stouffer II, who was executed by a three-drug lethal injection at 10 a.m. December 9, 2021, at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester for the 1985 slaying of an Oklahoma City-area teacher. Oklahoma Department of Corrections, File/AP Photo

He and his attorneys argued in court filings that the state's three-drug execution method poses a risk of unconstitutional pain and suffering and that Stouffer should be included among other death row plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit challenging the protocols. But his request was denied by a federal district judge and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

Stouffer was convicted and sentenced to death in 2003 after his first conviction and death sentence were overturned. At a parole board hearing last month, he said Ivens was shot as the two men fought over a gun at Ivens' home, and that Reaves was dead when he arrived.

Prosecutors said Stouffer went to the home to borrow the gun from Ivens, then fatally shot Reaves and wounded Ivens to gain access to Ivens' $2 million life insurance policy. At the time, Stouffer was dating Ivens' ex-wife.

Despite being shot three times with a .38-caliber pistol, including once in the face, Ivens survived and testified against Stouffer.

"Stouffer's heinous actions against Doug and Linda, his lies and manipulations in the years to follow, and his complete lack of sorrow and remorse for the hurt he caused should dictate one conclusion—the jury's death sentence must be carried out," attorneys for the state wrote in asking the Pardon and Parole Board to reject Stouffer's request for clemency.

Several members of the board voiced concerns about the state's ability to humanely execute people. But Republican Governor Kevin Stitt ultimately rejected the board's recommendation that Stitt commute Stouffer's sentence to life in prison without parole.

Stitt did grant clemency to another death row inmate, Julius Jones, last month just hours before his scheduled execution, commuting his sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole. That case had drawn outcry and protests over doubts about his guilt in the slaying of a businessman more than 20 years ago.

Oklahoma had one of the nation's busiest death chambers until problems in 2014 and 2015 led to a de facto moratorium. Richard Glossip was just hours away from being executed in September of 2015 when prison officials realized they received the wrong lethal drug. It was later learned the same wrong drug had been used to execute an inmate in January of 2015.

The drug mix-ups followed a botched execution in April of 2014 in which inmate Clayton Lockett struggled on a gurney before dying 43 minutes into his lethal injection—and after the state's prisons chief ordered executioners to stop.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Gurney, Lethal Injection, Oklahoma
The state of Oklahoma executed Bigler Stouffer II by lethal injection on Thursday morning for the 1985 killing of schoolteacher Linda Reaves. Above, the gurney in the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester on October 9, 2014. Sue Ogrocki/AP Photo