Wanda Jean Allen was sentenced to death in 1989 for the murder of Gloria Jean Lathers, who was 29 and her longtime girlfriend. Allen was the first black woman to be executed in the United States since 1954. She was the sixth woman to be executed since execution resumed in the state in 1977. Take a look below for 24 more terrifying and weird facts about Wanda Jean Allen.
1. She was born on August 17, 1959, and is the second of eight children. Her mother was a known alcoholic and her father left when Wanda’s last sibling was born. The family lived in public housing and scraped by on public assistance.
2. Allen was hit by a truck when she was 12 and stabbing in the left temple when she was 14. Because of this, it was found that her IQ was about 69 and that she had severely impaired mental capabilities.
3. The left hemisphere of her brain was dysfunctional, which impaired her comprehension, her ability to logically express herself and her ability to analyze cause and effect relationships.
4. On June 29, 1981, Allen and Dedra Pettus, her childhood friend turned girlfriend, got into an argument. Allen then shot and killed Dedra.
5. In her 1981 confession, Allen said that she accidentally shot Pettus from 30 feet away when she was returning fire from Pettus’s boyfriend.
6. Forensic evidence found that Allen was lying. A police expert believed that the bruises and powder burns on Pettus’s body showed that Allen had pistol whipped her and then shot her at point blank range.
7. Prosecutors ended up cutting a deal with Allen and she received a 4 year sentence in exchange for a guilty plea to a manslaughter charge. She served 2 years of the sentence.
8. Dedra Pettus was buried at Trice Hill Cemetery in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
9. 7 years after Dedra Pettus, Allen met and began living with Gloria Jean Leathers.
10. On December 2, 1988, Leathers, who was 29 at the time, was shot in front of the Village Police Department in Oklahoma City. Leathers and her mother were on their way to file a complaint against Allen.
11. When Leathers exited her car, Allen fired, severely wounding her. Leathers’ mother saw the shooting. The police found a .38 caliber handgun at the scene but Gloria died from the wound 3 days later.
12. Leathers was buried at the Green Acres Memorial Gardens Cemetery, Sperry in Tulsa County, Oklahoma.
13. After the police caught Allen, the state charged her with first degree murder and announced that it would seek seek the death penalty.
14. During the trial, a psychologist conducted a comprehensive evaluation of Allen in 1995 and found clear and convincing evidence of cognitive and sensory-motor deficits and brain dysfunction that’s linked to her head injuries as a child.
15. Allen spent 12 years on death row with her application for clemency being denied.
16. While she was in prison, she became a born again Christian. The Reverend Robin Meyers served as her spiritual adviser.
17. Allen, who was 41 at the time, was executed by lethal injection by the State of Oklahoma on Thursday, January 11, 2001, at Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.
18. 24 relatives of murder victim Gloria Leathers and manslaughter victim Detra Pettus went there for the execution. Many of them watched from behind a tinted window.
19. While she was lying on the execution gurney, Allen said, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.”
20. While lying on the gurney, Allen also stuck her tongue out and smiled at her appeal lawyer, Steve Presson, who had become her friend.
21. Steve Presson said that she was, “dancing on the mattress, while they tried to kill her.”
22. She was pronounced dead at 9:21 PM. Relatives of Leathers said that the execution gave them a sense of closure.
23. Reverend Robin Mayers said, “I always suspected that Wanda’s renunciation of lesbianism had more to do with helping to revamp herself in the most palatable way for her clemency and appeal processes. She knew perfectly well that her being a lesbian was a big strike against her and that it’s an embarrassment in the black community. She was going to play the best hand that she could play at the very end.”
24. The reason her clemency was denied was because she had killed twice and they felt like she was a cold blooded killer. They weren’t persuaded a least bit by her arguments about her mental capacity.