Oklahoma plans to execute a man Thursday for the torture slaying of his girlfriend’s 3-year-old son in 1993.
Richard Stephen Fairchild, who turns 63 on Thursday, is set to receive a lethal injection at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. Fairchild, an ex-Marine, was convicted of killing Adam Broomhall after the child wet the bed. Prosecutors say Fairchild held both sides of his body against a scorching furnace, then threw him into a table. The child never regained consciousness and died later that day.
“The method of Adam’s murder can only be described as torture,” prosecutors from the Oklahoma attorney general’s office wrote to the state’s Pardon and Parole Board, which voted 4-1 last month against recommending clemency for Fairchild.
Attorneys for Fairchild argue that he was abused as a child, is mentally ill and is remorseful for his actions.
“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 attorneys, 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 execution would be the seventh since Oklahoma resumed carrying out the death penalty in October 2021. It would be the 16th execution in the U.S. this year, including one in Texas and one in Arizona on Wednesday, up from last year’s three-decade low of 11. An execution was also scheduled for later Thursday in Alabama.
Also Thursday, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals is expected to rule on 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 is also seeking what his attorneys allege is evidence that was withheld by prosecutors, including interviews with witnesses. The court rejected a similar request by Glossip earlier this month.
The U.S. has seen waning support in recent years for the death penalty across all political parties. About 6 in 10 Americans favor 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 favor.