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Live and let die

Gazette staff December 28th, 2011

The emergency room can be rife with irony when it’s located near the state’s death row.

On Dec. 16, officials at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester rushed death row inmate Gary Roland Welch to the hospital after he tried to commit suicide by slashing his neck.

Doctors patched him up and sent him back to OSP’s infirmary unit with enough time for him to make a Jan. 5 execution date. Convicted for a 1994 stabbing death, Welch evidently tried to kill himself after the state pardon and parole board narrowly denied a bid for clemency. 

It was a much different story in Oklahoma County District Court for Paris Lapriest Powell. A one-time death row inmate on trial last week for rape and kidnapping, he abruptly fired his court-appointed public defender and decided to represent himself. Powell proceeded to win an acquittal — extraordinarily rare in such cases.

But he’s still going to see some time behind bars. Powell was slapped with contempt of court after telling District Judge Jerry Bass, “I don’t fucking care what you do, homey,” a phrase that we’re fairly sure we’ve never heard in any episode of “Law & Order.” The judge sentenced Powell to 30 days in county jail.

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