UPDATE: On August 8, 2023, the Oklahoman reported that AG Drummond has declined Representative Humphrey’s request to retest DNA evidence in Anthony Sanchez’s case.

Oklahoma State Representative Justin Humphrey (pictured) has called on Attorney General Gentner Drummond to reexamine DNA evidence in death-row prisoner Anthony Sanchez’s case and other Oklahoma death row prisoners. Citing Mr. Sanchez’s upcoming September execution date, Rep. Humphrey wrote in a letter to AG Drummond that he “completed an initial review of [Mr.] Sanchez’s case, and [he] believe[s] there is a significant issue with the processing of DNA evidence in death penalty cases in Oklahoma.” He said it is necessary to reprocess the DNA evidence used to convict Mr. Sanchez and other Oklahoma prisoners in order to confirm guilt or produce reasonable doubt where accuracy is in question. For Rep. Humphrey, who supports the use of capital punishment, retesting evidence “would be a critical step towards ensuring that the death penalty process is fair and just, not just in this case but in others like it.”

Mr. Sanchez was formally sentenced to death in 2006 for the 1996 rape and murder of Jewell ‘Juli’ Busken, a student at the University of Oklahoma. Ms. Busken’s murder was unsolved for about 8 years, but DNA evidence recovered from her clothing eventually linked Mr. Sanchez to the crime. The identity of the perpetrator has been contested, as Mr. Sanchez has maintained his innocence from the beginning. Following the death of his father, Thomas Glen Sanchez, Mr. Sanchez filed a post-conviction petition with the Court detailing that his father was the actual perpetrator, and the state incorrectly linked him to the murder. According to the petition, the elder Sanchez admitted to his girlfriend on several occasions prior to his death that he had killed Ms. Busken. The state courts rejected this evidence on the grounds of hearsay.

Supporters of Mr. Sanchez say that in addition to the improperly connected DNA evidence, the footprints at the crime scene were too small to belong to Mr. Sanchez and fingerprints found did not match him but have never been compared to his father. Mr. Sanchez’s counsel writes that “if Attorney General Drummond heeds the advice of Representative Humphrey, the whole State of Oklahoma will soon know for sure that [he is] an innocent man.” InJune 2023, he waived his opportunity to appear in front of the Oklahoma State Pardon and Parole Board, which was set to conduct a clemency hearing in early August. Instead of presenting a case for clemency, Mr. Sanchez continues to work on a variety of motions relating to his innocence. He wrote that he does not “want clemency. [He] want[s] to prove that [he] did not kill Juli Busken.”

Representative Humphrey, who also called for an investigation into prosecutors withholding evidence in Richard Glossip’s case, acknowledges the issues surrounding capital punishment in Oklahoma and believes “that it is imperative for our government to go the extra mile to restore confidence in the Oklahoma Death Penalty process.”


Skyler Cooper, Oklahoma law­mak­er asks AG to revis­it evi­dence from 1996 mur­der, 102.3 KRMG, August 4, 2023; KOKH Staff, Rep. Justin Humphrey calls for anoth­er inves­ti­ga­tion into the Anthony Sanchez death row case, KOKH, August 4, 2023; Derrick James, Oklahoma law­mak­er asks AG to retest DNA in death row inmate’s case, McAlester News-Capital, August 52023

See Rep. Humphrey’s let­ter to AG Drummond, here.