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N.Y. Governor Gives Killer Back to Oklahoma

<i> Associated Press</i>

A two-time killer who was at the center of a tug-of-war between Gov. Mario M. Cuomo and Oklahoma’s governor was sent to the Sooner State on Wednesday to face execution, just days after Cuomo left office.

During his successful campaign for governor last year against Cuomo, Republican George Pataki vowed to send the prisoner, Thomas Grasso, 31, back to Oklahoma and reinstate New York’s death penalty.

Grasso and Oklahoma Gov. David Walters lost a 1993 court battle with Cuomo, a death penalty opponent, over whether the killer should be put to death in Oklahoma or serve a 20-years-to-life sentence in New York first. Grasso had said he wanted to die rather than linger in prison.

A federal judge ruled that Grasso must serve his New York sentence first--if Cuomo insisted.

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Gerald Adams, a spokesman for the Oklahoma attorney general’s office, said Grasso’s execution by injection could be carried out within weeks.

Grasso had been convicted first in New York of strangling an elderly man on Staten Island in 1991. He then pleaded guilty to killing an elderly woman in Oklahoma and was sent there for sentencing. But Cuomo had him returned to New York.


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