Crime

Death Row Inmate Asks To Get Marriage License In Person

| by Kathryn Schroeder

An Oklahoma man convicted of killing four people made a request to leave death row to pick up a marriage license in person.

Gilbert Postelle was found guilty of killing Donnie Swindle Jr., Terry Smith, James Alderson and Amy Wright, KFOR reports. Authorities found their bodies with multiple gunshots behind a mobile home in Oklahoma City.

According to prosecutors, Postelle murdered Swindle because he thought the man was responsible for an accident that left Postelle’s father with brain damage. The three other victims were killed merely because they were with Swindle Jr. at the time.

Postelle is on death row at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary serving two death sentences for the quadruple murder in 2005.

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Oklahoma State law requires marriage licenses be issued in person by a court clerk, but in the past, a clerk has gone to the facility an inmate resides in to issue the license, according to KOCO.

In Postelle’s case, the court clerk is refusing to go to the maximum-security facility, so the only other option for Postelle is for him to go in person to the courthouse.

Postelle made a request to the Department of Corrections to leave the prison to pick up a marriage license, but Swindle’s mother does not think he should have the right to do so.

“For someone who took the rights away from four people in four minutes, he has the right to marry,” Mary Jo Swindle said, according to KFOR. “He shouldn’t have any rights to do things like that. I just feel like he ought to suffer the way he has made so many families.”

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Mary Jo believes that allowing Postelle to leave the prison, where he is supposed to be locked away for 23 hours a day without company, will undue the justice done for her son’s murder.

Yet according to the DOC, it is Postelle’s constitutional right.

"We do not believe that, constitutionally, we can prevent this from occurring," DOC Spokeswoman Terri Watkins told KFOR. "In this particular case, the only way he can be married is with this signed document, and he's requested that and it's a right that's his."

“That’s a very unfortunate position for the family to be in, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that [Postelle is] a human being and these are human rights,” defense attorney Jacqui Ford told KFOR. “And, as long as he’s living and breathing in this country, we have a duty to protect those rights.”

Postelle is required to cover the transportation cost to the courthouse and any associated costs, such as security.

Since Postelle is a violent offender, his request requires special approval from DOC Director Joe Allbaugh, according to Watkins.

It has been “many, many years” since a death row inmate has received leave for a marriage license, Watkins said.

“Denying someone in the darkest of their days access to maybe the one good thing that they have seems pretty cruel and unusual and unnecessary,” Ford said.

Mary Jo does not think Postelle should be allowed any sort of enjoyment.

“It just hurts so badly that we’ve lost a son that has absolutely no rights and they’re making this big to do about what he has the right to do,” she said.

Sources: KFOR, KOCO / Photo credit: KOCO

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