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Anderson was taken into custody at the home of his aunt and uncle. Image Credit: Pixabay

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, 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, prosecutors are questioning how Anderson, 42, who had been incarcerated several times, 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 Tuesday that he could seek the death penalty for 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, Anderson forced his way into the Chickasha, Oklahoma, home of Andrea Lynn Blankenship, 41, killing her and cutting out her heart, according to an affidavit for a search warrant. Blankenship's body bore stab wounds and showed signs of blunt force trauma, authorities said.

'To release demons'

Anderson told investigators that he had taken 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.

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, authorities said. Anderson's aunt, who called 911, survived the attack but suffered stab wounds to both of her eyes, investigators said.

Anderson was taken into custody at the home of his aunt and uncle that day and was hospitalised for an extensive cut to his hand that required surgery. On Feb. 11, two days after the killings of his uncle and cousin, Anderson revealed that he had also killed their neighbor, Blakenship, authorities said. Chickasha is about 64km southwest of Oklahoma City.

In addition to the murder counts, 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 Anderson's aunt and uncle as evidence.

Al Hoch, a lawyer for Anderson, did not immediately respond to requests for comment but said during a court appearance Tuesday that he would seek a mental evaluation to determine whether Anderson was competent to stand trial, The Associated Press reported.

The office of Gov. J. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma, a Republican, referred questions about Anderson's sentence commutation to the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment 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 Stitt, according to their biographies on the board's website.

Hicks, the district attorney, said Tuesday that 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."