Donald Ray Wackerly II, an inmate on death row at Oklahoma State Penitentiary, has asked that his scheduled execution be delayed a week while a federal judge decides if Wackerly’s Buddhist “spiritual advisor” can be present in the death chamber when the lethal injection is administered. From the NewsOK report:

Wackerly, 41, was sentenced to die for the 1996 murder of a Laotian fisherman. Pan Sayakhoummane was shot eight times and left in the Arkansas River.

According to documents filed on behalf of Wackerly in federal court in Oklahoma City, the he has converted to Buddhism and is also known as Thubten Jangsen.

As part of his Buddhist practice, Wackerly believes in reincarnation and the teaching that the thoughts and feelings at the time of death can affect the circumstances of rebirth, according to the documents.

“If you are able to die with compassion in your heart for all beings, your next rebirth will be in good circumstances,” Wackerly said in a statement filed with the court documents. “I want to die with the thought in mind that I want to become fully enlightened so that I can return to the world to benefit all beings.”

According to the documents filed by attorney Michael Salem, the presence of a spiritual adviser in the execution chamber was permitted before 2003 before Corrections Department policy barred the practice. Spiritual advisers can observe executions from an observation room adjacent to the death chamber.

The hearing before federal judge Stephen Friot is set for 5pm today. Wackerly’s execution is scheduled to take place at 6pm tomorrow night. Read more about this story here.

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