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Oklahoma Death Row Inmate Claims His Father Killed The Ballerina In Whose Murder He Was Convicted

Anthony Sanchez was convicted in 2006 of the rape and murder of Oklahoma University student Juli Busken a decade earlier. But a woman now says his father, Glen, repeatedly confessed to the murder before dying by suicide last year.

By Jax Miller
Killer Motive: What Drives People To Kill?

A death row inmate says he is innocent of brutally murdering a ballerina in the mid-1990s.

Attorneys representing Anthony Castillo Sanchez, 44, say new evidence could prove their client is innocent of the murder of beloved Oklahoma University ballet student Jewell Jean "Juli" Busken, 21, according to The Oklahoman.

Busken was abducted on Dec. 20, 1996, from her Norman apartment complex — about 20 miles south of Oklahoma City — and found dead that evening at the nearby Lake Stanley Draper reservoir, per an application for post-conviction relief filed by attorneys on Friday with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals and reviewed by Oxygen.com.

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Busken had been raped and sustained a single gunshot wound to the back of the head.

According to the Duncan Banner, she had just finished her final semester at college and had been preparing to move back to her hometown of Benton, Arkansas, at the time of her death.

Sanchez was linked to the homicide via DNA and convicted of first-degree murder and rape charges in 2006.

But now, Sanchez’s attorney, Mark Barrett, says it was Sanchez’s late father, Thomas “Glen" Sanchez — not Anthony Sanchez — who committed the murder, according to Friday’s filing. Much of the new claims stem from the documented December 2022 confessions of Glen Sanchez’s longtime girlfriend, Charlotte Beattie.

“Allowing Mr. Sanchez’s conviction and sentence to stand violates the federal constitution in that, if all the present information had been known at trial, it would not have been reasonable to convict,” Barrett wrote.

Beattie — who began dating Glen in 1992 and with whom she shares one child — signed a sworn statement claiming Glen began admitting to Busken’s murder beginning in 2020.

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In 2021, Glen allegedly told Beattie on multiple occasions that he “should have done a better job” of murdering Busken, according to court documents.

“Once, he said he enjoyed watching her die,” Beattie alleged. “Glen said that he regretted Anthony was on death row for something Glen did. But he said that Anthony was tough and could deal with being locked up, whereas Glen wasn’t strong enough to adapt to being incarcerated.”

According to the sworn statements included in the filing, Beattie referred to Glen as a “violent” alcoholic prone to “fits of rage.”

She claimed he mentioned “killing that Busken” woman as a means to instill fear into her.

“I was too scared of Glen while he was alive to even consider revealing Glen’s confessions with Anthony,” Beattie stated. “After Glen died, I, for some time, would have still been unwilling to talk about Glen’s admissions.”

Glen took his own life on Beattie’s porch last April, per the filing. He was 68 at the time.

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Barrett isn’t the only one to side with Sanchez’s proclamations of innocence. Sanchez’s spiritual advisor, Dr. Rev. Jeff Hood, said he also believes “Anthony Sanchez is innocent,” according to the Duncan Banner.

“I don’t believe that this is a situation that you just poke holes in and what not,” Hood stated. “I believe that this is a case of actual innocence.”

Speaking to the Oklahoman virtually from his Little Rock, Arkansas, home on Monday, Hood said this was the first time he encountered someone he believed was genuinely innocent after working with “dozens and dozens and dozens of guys on death row throughout our country.”’

It isn’t the first time Anthony Sanchez implicated his father in Busken’s murder, either. In 2011, post-conviction attorneys during a federal appeal noted that a witness sketch of Busken’s killer “closely resembled” Glen, according to the Oklahoman.

Witnesses reported the presumed killer was quite a bit older than the victim, per the recent filing. Anthony Sanchez was 18 and three years her junior at the time of Busken’s murder.

“The sketch wasn’t Anthony,” Hood told the Banner. “It doesn’t look like Anthony.”

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Anthony Sanchez’s attorneys also argue that of the 49 fingerprints and hair samples found in Busken’s vehicle — which witnesses claimed to have seen driving to and from the crime scene — none matched their client.

The younger Sanchez didn’t become a suspect until 2004, when the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation tested DNA found on Busken’s underwear, according to the application. At the time, Sanchez was imprisoned for a separate burglary conviction, requiring he submit a DNA sample upon his sentence.

Those siding with Sanchez note that DNA tests were performed by disgraced forensic analyst Joyce Gilchrist, whose discredited work contributed to the death sentences of nearly two dozen people, at least four of which were overturned.

But there is debate as to whether Gilchrist ever directly handled Sanchez’s case, according to Oklahoma City NBC affiliate KFOR-TV.

Prosecutors say they also used ballistic evidence to tie Sanchez to the crime scene, according to the Banner.

“In a wall at a former residence of the petitioner, there was a bullet with a rifling pattern like that of the bullet that killed Ms. Busken,” according to the post-conviction filing. “However, the State’s expert conceded the pattern was not uncommon, and in fact, could be found in bullets from six different manufacturers.”

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In 2015, U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton additionally noted it was “more than just a coincidence” that after Busken’s murder, the victim’s phone was used to call the defendant’s ex-girlfriend.

“I don’t care if a hundred people come forward and confess to killing Juli Busken, all of the evidence points to no one but Anthony Sanchez,” former Cleveland County District Attorney Tim Kuykendall told The Oklahoman on Monday.

Friday’s application comes at the heels of new Attorney General Gentner Drummond appointing a special counsel to provide a “thorough review” of the case of high-profile death row inmate Richard Glossip, according to the Oklahoman. Under new administrators and coupled with Beattie’s sworn statements, Barrett hopes his client’s conviction will be vacated.

“This court should, at a minimum, grant an evidentiary hearing so the innocence claim can be explored further,” Barrett stated in the filing.

The defendant, for his part, has maintained his innocence since day one. He even told Busken’s parents after the guilty verdict against him, “I swear to God, I didn’t kill your daughter,” according to the Oklahoman.

Adding to pressures to overturn the murder conviction, advocates note that Anthony Sanchez is a member of the Choctaw Nation, where many people oppose executions, according to the Action Network.

Anthony Sanchez was originally scheduled for execution on April 6. However, the Court of Criminal Appeals set a 60-day reprieve between executions, according to the Banner, effectively moving the lethal injection date to Sept. 21.

“I believe we were that close to executing an innocent man without any of this evidence, any of these things ever coming about,” Hood told the Banner. “That is a terrifying thing which speaks to, again, the deficiencies in the criminal justice system, but particularly the deficiencies in the way that we are so quickly executing people.”

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