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First 2012 U.S. execution is set for Thursday in McAlester, Okla.

Rachel Petersen, McAlester News-Capital, Okla. –

The first 2012 scheduled execution in the United States is set to take place this week at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.

Gary Roland Welch, 49, death row inmate at OSP, is set to be executed Thursday at 6 p.m. for his first degree murder conviction for the Aug. 25, 1994, slaying of 35-year-old Robert Dean Hardcastle in Miami, Okla.

The first 2011 execution in the U.S. also took place at OSP, when Oklahoma death row inmate Billy Don Alverson, 39, was executed on Jan. 6, 2011, for the Feb. 26, 1995, murder of 30-year-old Richard Kevin Yost, during a robbery of the Quik Trip in Tulsa, where Yost was the store’s night clerk.

Alverson was one of four men found guilty of first-degree murder in the beating death of Yost. Three of the four men were sentenced to death, and the fourth received life without parole. Alverson was the second man in the case to be executed.

The U.S Supreme Court of Appeals denied Welch’s last appeal on Oct. 3. Immediately following the denial, the State of Oklahoma Attorney General’s office requested an execution date be scheduled for Welch.

Welch’s death sentence was scheduled for Jan. 5, and on Dec. 5, exactly one month prior to his scheduled execution, Welch participated in his clemency hearing.

In a statement to the clemency board, Welch said that his killing of Hardcastle was in self-defense. The Oklahoma State Pardon and Parole Board subsequently voted 3-2 denying Welch clemency.

On Dec. 16, Welch attempted to commit suicide in his cell at OSP by cutting his neck with a homemade device constructed out of shaving razors. He was found bleeding in his cell and had to be rushed to the McAlester Regional Health Center, a local hospital, where he spent three days in the intensive care unit.

Welch was released from ICU and is currently being housed in OSP’s infirmary unit. Shortly after his arrival back at the prison, OSP Warden Randy Workman told the McAlester News-Capital that he was doing good. “He’s eating and talking and showed some remorse,” Workman said.

OSP Warden’s Assistant Terry Crenshaw said Welch is being “monitored 24 hours a day and will continue to be monitored up until his execution.”

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