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Man Released from Prison Early Accused in Three Brutal Deaths, Governor Requests Investigation of Probation and Parole Board Actions

CHICKASHA, OKLAHOMA — A 2020 commutation of a prison sentence by Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt resulted in the release of a man who allegedly committed a series of brutal murders, including family members and a child. A judge denied bail Tuesday for Lawrence Paul Anderson, who faces three counts of first-degree murder, one count of assault and one count of maiming for the attacks this month in Chickasha, about 35 miles southwest of Oklahoma City.

In 2017, Anderson was sentenced to 20 years in prison for probation violations on a drug case. Last year, acting on a recommendation of the parole board, Gov. Stitt commuted the sentence to nine years in prison and Anderson was then released after serving a little more than three years.

Anderson is accused of killing neighbor Andrea Lynn Blankenship, 41, and cutting out her heart, according to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. Authorities say Anderson then took the woman’s heart to his aunt and uncle’s house, cooked it with potatoes and tried to serve it to them. Anderson then killed his uncle, Leon Pye, 67, wounded his aunt, and murdered Kaeos Yates, the 4-year-old granddaughter of the couple.

During his initial court appearance, Anderson sobbed, telling the judge, “I don’t want no bail, your honor. I don’t want no bail.”  Anderson’s attorney, Al Hoch, indicated that he will seek a mental evaluation to determine whether Anderson is competent to stand trial.

Jason Hicks, Grady County District Attorney, criticized the criminal justice reform that led to the commutations of Anderson and hundreds of other Oklahoma inmates. “It is time that we do better. If we have the highest incarceration rate in the world, OK. We can look at our citizens and be honest with them and tell them that you’re safe. I can’t tell the people in my district today that they’re safe.”

Stitt signed the commutation after it was approved in a 3-1 vote by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board.  Further research has revealed that the Board voted 3-2 against Anderson’s release in July 2019. Stitt, in a letter to the OSBI, has now requested an investigation of the Pardon and Parole Board in the case of Anderson and another inmate. In the letter to OSBI Director Ricky James, Stitt said he was presented with information which raises concerns that violations of state law and/or violations of the rules of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board may have been committed, affecting the recommendations of the board in relation to the two inmates.

When asked for comment, Stitt’s chief of communications, Charlie Hannema, stated, “It would be inappropriate to comment further until the investigation ordered by the governor is complete.”

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