An Oklahoma man who was released early from prison broke into a woman’s home this month, cut out her heart, cooked it and tried to feed it to his relatives — and then killed two of them, the authorities said this week.
The man, Lawrence Paul Anderson, who has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the killings, had been sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2017 for a probation violation in a drug case, but public records show that he was granted clemency last year by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board as part of a mass commutation program.
His sentence was reduced to nine years, but he was required to serve only three years and was released in January.
Now, prosectors are questioning how Mr. Anderson, 42, who had been incarcerated several times before, became eligible for a sentence commutation, which requires the governor’s approval. The district attorney in charge of the case said during a news conference on Tuesday that he could seek the death penalty for Mr. Anderson.
“When is enough enough?” said Jason Hicks, the district attorney for Grady County. “We have put politics and releasing inmates in front of public safety.”
On or shortly before Feb. 9, about three weeks after his release from prison, Mr. Anderson forced his way into the Chickasha, Okla., home of Andrea Lynn Blankenship, 41, killing her and cutting out her heart, according to an affidavit for a search warrant. Ms. Blankenship’s body bore stab wounds and showed signs of blunt force trauma, the authorities said.
Mr. Anderson told investigators that he had taken Ms. Blankenship’s heart across the street to the house of his aunt and uncle on Feb. 9, cooked it with potatoes and tried to feed it to them “to release the demons,” the affidavit said.
Mr. Anderson then attacked the couple and their 4-year-old granddaughter on Feb. 9, killing his uncle, Leon Pye, 67, and the granddaughter, Kaeos Yates, both of whom had been stabbed and showed signs of blunt force trauma, the authorities said. Mr. Anderson’s aunt, who called 911, survived the attack but suffered stab wounds to both of her eyes, investigators said.
Mr. Anderson was taken into custody at the home of his aunt and uncle that day and was hospitalized for an extensive cut to his hand that required surgery. On Feb. 11, two days after the killings of his uncle and cousin, Mr. Anderson revealed that he had also killed their neighbor, Ms. Blakenship, the authorities said. Chickasha is about 40 miles southwest of Oklahoma City.
In addition to the murder counts, Mr. Anderson was charged this week with assault and battery with a deadly weapon and maiming, according to court records. He was denied bail.
Investigators said they had seized pots and pans from the home of Mr. Anderson’s aunt and uncle as evidence.
Al Hoch, a lawyer for Mr. Anderson, did not immediately respond to requests for comment but said during a court appearance on Tuesday that he would seek a mental evaluation to determine whether Mr. Anderson was competent to stand trial, The Associated Press reported.
The office of Gov. J. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma, a Republican, referred questions about Mr. Anderson’s sentence commutation to the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday night.
In Oklahoma, at least three of the five members of the state’s parole board must favorably recommend an inmate for commutation, according to the board’s website. The applications are then presented to the governor for final approval. Three of the board’s current members were appointed to the panel by Mr. Stitt, according to their biographies on the board’s website.
Mr. Hicks, the district attorney, said on Tuesday that Mr. Anderson was one of 600 applicants whose commutation cases were reviewed by the parole board over three days in January 2020.
“I really think an offender such as this should not have been able to apply for commutation when somebody has the record that he has,” he said. “That application should have never been heard.”