Benjamin Cole

With Execution Looming, Judge Denies Competency Hearing for Oklahoma Death-Row Prisoner

Death Penalty Info. Center: “Cole’s defense team issued a statement from assistant federal defender Tom Hird in response to the ruling, saying, “Benjamin Cole is incapacitated by his mental illness to the point of being essentially non-functional. His own attorneys have not been able to have a meaningful interaction with him for years, and the staff who interact with him in the prison every day confirm that he cannot communicate or take care of his most basic hygiene. He simply does not have a rational understanding of why Oklahoma seeks to execute him.”

“The court conducted a hearing on Cole’s petition for a competency trial on September 30, three days after the Oklahoma Board of Pardons and Parole had denied defense counsel’s petition for clemency. Cole’s lawyers wrote in that petition that “Benjamin Cole today is a frail, 57-year-old man with a damaged and deteriorating brain, suffering from progressive and severe mental illness who poses no threat to anyone in any way.” After a clemency hearing on September 27, the board voted 4-1 to deny the petition.”

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