McALESTER, Okla. – A man convicted in the 1996 fatal shooting of a fisherman in eastern Oklahoma was put to death Thursday as Buddhist monks chanted inside the execution chamber.
Donald Ray Wackerly, 41, received a lethal injection at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary and was pronounced dead at 6:12 p.m.
A converted Buddhist, Wackerly requested that two spiritual advisers witness his death. Wackerly and the monks both repeatedly recited a six-syllable chant — "om mani padme hum" — during the execution. Wackerly's attorneys also joined in the chant.
One of Wackerly's attorneys described it as a "mantra of ultimate compassion."
As part of an agreement with prison officials, Wackerly's spiritual adviser was allowed to remain inside the death chamber and perform several rituals on his corpse.
Wackerly was convicted in the shooting death of 51-year-old Pan Sayakhoummane (sy-ak-hoo-MAHN'-ee) during a robbery in Sequoyah County.
The Laos native from Fort Smith, Ark., was shot between seven and nine times with a .22-caliber rifle in the head, back, chest, arm, wrist and hand. His body was found the next day in his partly submerged pickup truck in the Arkansas River.
Wackerly maintained his innocence and claimed he was set up by his wife, who was granted immunity from prosecution and testified against Wackerly during his murder trial.
"I did not kill him ... I did not shoot Mr. Sayakhoummane," Wackerly told members of the state's Pardon and Parole Board during a clemency hearing last month.
Wackerly and his then-wife, Michelle, who lived in nearby Muldrow, drove to the Arkansas River on Sept. 7, 1996, allegedly so that Wackerly could find someone to rob, court documents show. The pair came upon Sayakhoummane, a Laos native from Fort Smith, Ark., who had been fishing along the Arkansas River.
Wackerly was arrested about three months after Sayakhoummane's death when his estranged wife, who claimed to be a witness, went to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
She described the events surrounding the victim's murder and the theft of his tackle box and other items that were later pawned.