On Jan 8, 1990, Robert Wesley Knighton broke into the rural Oklahoma farmhouse of an elderly couple, Richard and Virginia Denney, and murdered them. He took sixty-one dollars, a pocketknife, some cigarettes, and a run-down truck. Nine months later he was sentenced to death.

This is a recording of the final clemency hearing for Knighton. In Oklahoma, a clemency hearing for a crime of this sort is little more than a formality, but this case was unusual. The only witness testifying on Knighton’s behalf was Sue Norton, the daughter of the man he had murdered thirteen years ago.

Sue Norton forgave and ultimately befriended Knighton. She and her husband will witness Knighton’s execution at his request on May 27, 2003. In this story, she walks us through Knighton’s clemency hearing, held eight days before he was executed.

Recorded in McAlester, OK, and Arkansas City, KS. Premiered May 27, 2003, on All Things Considered.

This documentary comes from Sound Portraits Productions, a mission-driven independent production company that was created by Dave Isay in 1994. Sound Portraits was the predecessor to StoryCorps and was dedicated to telling stories that brought neglected American voices to a national audience.