Execution Is Set for Former Teenage Killer, Now 29
Oklahoma inmate Sean Sellers, scheduled this morning to become the first U.S. resident in 40 years to die for crimes committed as a 16-year-old, never stopped insisting he had changed from the confused Satan worshiper who murdered his mother, stepfather and a shop clerk.
The planned execution of Sellers, now 29, has drawn international protest and debate over the age at which a criminal should be eligible for the death penalty. But neither the state parole board nor family members of Sellers’ victims who attended his clemency hearing last week found reason to challenge the sentence. A motion for a new clemency hearing failed in U.S. District Court on Wednesday.
Sixteen other inmates across the country await execution for crimes committed when they were 16, according to the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington.
After eating a Chinese dinner, Sellers spent Wednesday bidding farewell to friends and relatives, his lawyer, Steve Presson, said.
Kevin Acers, president of Oklahoma City’s Amnesty International chapter, called the execution a violation of accepted moral standards throughout the world. “Even for those who are not opposed to the death penalty in general, we draw the line at killing people for what they did as children.”
But Thomas Bellofatto, whose brother was killed by Sellers, said he supported the execution as adamantly as he did 13 years ago.
“I can tell you that my grandson, who’s 7 years old, surely understands what’s right and wrong,” Bellofatto said. “So where do you want to put a cutoff date? I think 16 is too high of an age limit.”
Sellers was an avowed Satanist when he shot convenience store clerk Robert Paul Bower in 1985 and his own mother, Vonda Bellofatto, and stepfather, Paul Bellofatto, in 1986 in Oklahoma City. After his conviction, Sellers argued that he had been diagnosed with multiple personality disorder.
Former juror Dianna Craun was one of those who spoke on Sellers’ behalf at his clemency hearing. Craun said the 12 jurors had rejected a life sentence for Sellers only because they feared he would be paroled after 15 years or less.
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