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Man executed for torturing and murdering three-year-old who wet the bed

Oklahoma authorities executed Richard Fairchild on Thursday for the brutal slaying of his girlfriend's 3-year-old son in 1993 (Oklahoma Department of Corrections via AP, File)
Associated Press Reporters

A man who tortured and murdered his girlfriend’s three-year-old son has been executed in Oklahoma.

Richard Stephen Fairchild’s death over the 1993 killing was the 16th execution in the US this year, including one in Texas and one in Arizona on Wednesday, up from last year’s 30-year low of 11.

An execution scheduled for later on Thursday in Alabama – of Kenneth Eugene Smith for the 1998 murder-for-hire killing of a preacher’s wife – was eventually called off after officials up against a midnight deadline were unable to find a suitable vein to inject lethal drugs.

After Thursday, three more executions are scheduled in the US for the remainder of 2022 — one each in Missouri, Oklahoma and Idaho, according to the Death Penalty Information Centre.

Fairchild, who turned 63 on Thursday, began receiving the first of a lethal three-drug combination at 10.10am at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.

He was declared dead at 10.24am.

Fairchild, an ex-marine, was convicted of killing Adam Broomhall after the child wet the bed.

Prosecutors said he held both sides of Adam’s body against a scorching furnace before throwing him into a table.

The youngster never regained consciousness and died later that day.

Strapped to a gurney inside the death chamber, Fairchild thanked his lawyers and prison staff and apologised to Adam’s family.

“Today’s a day for Adam, justice for Adam,” he said.

“I’m at peace with God. Don’t grieve for me because I’m going home to meet my heavenly father.”

Michael Hurst, Adam’s uncle, said the boy would have been 34.

“Our long journey for justice has finally arrived,” he said, adding he was surprised to hear Fairchild express remorse for killing his nephew.

“He hadn’t said that in 30 years.”

Prosecutors from the Oklahoma attorney general’s office described the boy’s killing as torture when they wrote to the state’s pardon and parole board, which voted 4-1 last month against recommending clemency for Fairchild.

Lawyers for Fairchild argued he was abused as a child, was mentally ill and remorseful.

“As Richard Fairchild’s brain has deteriorated, he has descended into psychosis, a fact well-documented in his prison records,” Emma Rolls, one of Fairchild’s lawyers, said in a statement to the board.

“Yet despite having lost touch with reality, Richard remains remorseful for his crime and continues to have an unblemished prison record. There is no principled reason for Oklahoma to execute him.”

Fairchild’s lawyers filed last-minute appeals on Wednesday with Oklahoma’s court of criminal appeals and the US supreme court, but both courts denied his requests on Thursday.

Also on Thursday, the Oklahoma court of criminal appeals denied a request from death row inmate Richard Glossip for a hearing to determine whether a co-defendant sought to recant his testimony that Glossip hired him to kill motel owner Barry Van Treese.

Glossip’s execution is scheduled for February.

His lawyers say evidence was withheld by prosecutors, including interviews with witnesses.

The court rejected a similar request by Glossip earlier this month and on Thursday ruled the matters are not eligible for review because they were either settled previously by courts, could have been presented in earlier appeals or were not raised within 60 days of their discovery.

The US has seen waning support in recent years for the death penalty across all political parties.

About six in 10 Americans favour the death penalty, according to the General Social Survey, a major trends survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago.

While a majority continue to express support for the death penalty, the share has declined steadily since the 1990s, when nearly three-quarters were in favour.

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