Thursday, October 14, 2010

Condemned Prisoner Granted Right to Post-Execution Buddhist Ritual

Donald Ray Wackerly’s execution is set for 6 p.m. today at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Oklahoma. He sought to have a Buddhist monk inside the death chamber during his execution for the 1996 shooting death of a Laotian fisherman Pan Sayakhoummane during a robbery in Sequoyah County.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot dismissed Wackerly's complaint, but an agreement was reached that permits a Buddhist spiritual adviser to conduct several religious rituals on the inmate’s body after his execution.

According to the Associated Press, once Wackerly has been pronounced dead, his spiritual adviser, Thubten Jampel, will be allowed to enter the execution room to perform several rituals.

“Those rituals are consistent with the Buddhist principles that Mr. Wackerly ascribes to,” prison officials told the Associated Press. “It’s part of the agreement that once the physician has pronounced death, that the body will not be disturbed or touched by anybody until after the conclusion of Mr. Jampel’s rituals.”

Prison officials said Jampel will spend 15 or 20 minutes with Wackerly’s corpse.

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