Oklahoma Executes Man for 1985 School Teacher Shooting

by Victoria Santiago
(Photo by Per-Anders Pettersson/Liaison)

On Thursday, Oklahoma executed a man via lethal injection for the 1985 murder of a schoolteacher.

The man claimed that the lethal injection method would give him unconstitutional pain and suffering. The state rejected his claim. Bigler Stouffer II, aged 79, died by lethal injection at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. Stouffer is the first person to be executed in OK since John Grant suffered during lethal injection. Stouffer died peacefully.

Stouffer’s attorneys wanted him to be added to a federal lawsuit challenging lethal injection. He was denied by a federal district judge and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Two hours before his execution, a final appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court was denied.

Up until his death, Stouffer insisted he was innocent in the 1985 shooting of Linda Reaves and her boyfriend, Doug Ivens. His first sentence was overturned, and in 2003 he was convicted and sentenced to death.

Last month at a parole hearing, Stouffer maintained that Linda Reaves was already dead when he got to the scene and that Doug Ivens was shot as they fought over the gun. Prosecutors say that Stouffer borrowed a gun from Ivens, then fatally shot Reaves and wounded Ivens. Ivens was shot three times by the .38-caliber pistol but survived to testify against Stouffer. Ivens has since died.

Stouffer hoped to get access to Ivens’ $2 million life insurance policy. At the time of the murder, he was dating Ivens’ ex-wife.

Protocol Problems with Oklahoma Lethal Injection

Until 2015, Oklahoma had one of the busiest death chambers in the U.S. In September of that year, officials figured out they had received the wrong lethal drug. The discovery came mere hours before the scheduled execution of Richard Glossip.

Oklahoma executions had a host of problems, drug mix-ups included. In April of 2014, Clayton Lockett took 43 minutes to die by lethal injection. He finally died after struggling on the gurney, and after the state’s prisons chief ordered the execution to stop.

An Inmate Survives Execution in Alabama

Oklahoma isn’t the only state where death sentences have gone awry. Four years ago, Doyle Hamm escaped execution via lethal injection. Due to his many health issues, the executioners couldn’t find a vein to use for the injection site. They searched for over 2 1/2 hours for a usable vein. Authorities halted Hamm’s execution after 11 attempts to find a vein. His health problems and drug use affected the integrity of his veins. Lawyers said that using lethal injection would put Hamm under unconstitutional amounts of pain and suffering. His victims had already waited a long time for justice.

Authorities changed his death sentence to life in prison in 2018. After spending over 30 years in prison, Hamm died earlier this year from cancer.