McALESTER, Okla. — The State of Oklahoma executed an inmate Thursday who was convicted of the 1996 rape and murder of a University of Oklahoma dance student. The case went unsolved for years until DNA from the crime scene was matched to an inmate serving time in prison for burglary.
Anthony Sanchez, 44, was pronounced dead at 10:19 a.m. at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester following a lethal injection. Although he maintained his innocence right up until the end, he rejected his chance for a clemency hearing earlier this year, KTLA reported.
Juli Busken was 21-years-old at the time of her death. She was an Arkansas native who had just finished her final semester when she was abducted from the parking lot of her Norman apartment complex on Dec. 20, 1996.
Busken’s body was found bound, raped and shot in the head near a lake in southeast Oklahoma City.
The homicide remained unsolved for years until DNA from sperm on Busken’s clothing at the crime scene matched Sanchez, who was serving time in prison for burglary. He was subsequently convicted and given the death penalty in 2006.
At one point, Sanchez claimed his father made a death bed confession to being the actual killer. However, authorities said DNA disproved the preposterous assertion.
On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Sanchez’s request for a stay of execution, Fox News reported.
Busken had performed as a ballerina in several dance performances during her time at the University of Oklahoma. She was memorialized with a dance scholarship in her name at the College of Fine Arts.
During a phone call with the Associate Press earlier this year, Sanchez continued to maintain his innocence.
“That is fabricated DNA,” he said. “That is false DNA. That is not my DNA. I’ve been saying that since day one.”
The condemned killer continued to proclaim his innocence as he was strapped to the gurney inside Oklahoma’s death chamber Thursday morning.
“I’m innocent,” Sanchez said. “I didn’t kill nobody.”
Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond maintained that the DNA evidence unequivocally linked Sanchez to Busken’s sexual assault and murder, reported KTLA.
A sample of the condemned killer’s DNA “was identical to the profiles developed from sperm on Ms. Busken’s panties and leotard,” Drummond wrote last month in a letter to a state representative who had inquired about Sanchez’s conviction.
Furthermore, Drummond affirmed there was no indication either profile was mixed with DNA from any other individual and that the odds of randomly selecting an individual with the same genetic profile were 1 in 94 trillion among Southwest Hispanics.
“There is no conceivable doubt that Anthony Sanchez is a brutal rapist and murderer who is deserving of the state’s harshest punishment,” Drummond said in a recent statement.
No one from Busken’s family attended the execution. Drummond said he had been in touch with family members several times in the months leading up to the execution, but they declined to be present.
“Juli was murdered 26 years, nine months and one day ago. The family has found closure and peace,” Drummond said.