Sean Richard Sellers (Sean Sellers) (May 18, 1969 – February 5, 1999) was an American murderer. He was also one of 22 persons in the United States since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976 to be executed for a crime committed while under the age of 18.
He was also the only person during this period to be executed for a crime committed under the age of 17. His case drew worldwide attention due to his young age in addition to his jailhouse conversion to Christianity and his claim that demonic possession had made him innocent of his crimes.
Robert Bower (September 8th, 1985)
On September 8th 1985, 16-year-old Sean Sellers and former best friend Richard Howard killed Circle K convenience store clerk Robert Bower for not selling them beer and because of their curiosity to know what it feels like. The teen surprised the convenience store clerk while he was drinking coffee and with one shot from a .22 caliber Marlin semiautomatic rifle, pursued the wounded man across the store and when he caught up with him shot again (killing him).
Sean Sellers killed his mother and stepfather (March, 1986)
In March of 1986, Sean Sellers killed his mother and stepfather while they were sleeping at their residence in Oklahoma. After this gruesome incident, Sellers placed the crime scene in a way that would make it appear like an intruder was behind the murders.
Trial – Satanism and Dungeons & Dragons addiction
When Sean Sellers was on trial for his gruesome series of murders, he claimed both in and outside of court that he was a practicing Satanist as well as a huge fan of the game Dungeons & Dragons. The defense for Sellers also argued that the murders caused by this alleged Satanism and Dungeons & Dragons addiction were directly related to one another, saying that the content from Dungeons & Dragons warped his young mind. The jury found it implausible, however, and sentenced him to death with no chance of parole in 1986. Oklahoma law did not give juries the option of giving a life sentence without the possibility of parole during that time. One juror later said that they felt Sellers would be paroled in 7 to 14 years – which didn’t seem like a sufficiently long prison term. So they opted for the death penalty instead. Other juries denied this claim.
Religious conversion to Christianity
Serial killer Sean Sellers became a Christian while in prison. His friends started a Web site on his behalf, and he campaigned for clemency based on his religious conversion, age, and involvement in Satanism. While on Death Row, Sellers made numerous appearances in the mass media, appearing on programs such as Oprah Winfrey; Geraldo; MSNBC; 48 Hours, as well as documentaries about Satanism and serial killers for A&E Networks. He also married in prison, but this later turned into an annulment in 1997.
Sean Sellers’ step-siblings didn’t believe that his conversion to Christianity was genuine; only his step-grandfather of the many surviving members of his family believed it to be sincere as a result. Prison officials also maintained their disbelief, except for the prison chaplain who chose to trust him.
The imminent execution of Sean Sellers after failed appeals caused great controversy. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, European Union spokesman Pernilla Sjostedt, the American Bar Association, and Bianca Jagger all condemned the execution. They argued that he was too young at the time of the crime – only 16 – and that his religious work in prison outweighed the need for punishment. He was executed by lethal injection at 12:17 a.m. on February 5th, 1999.
Public outcry on minor’s death penalty
“The Sellers case represents everything that is wrong with the juvenile death penalty. He was clearly a troubled kid and no one noticed when it mattered,” said Brian of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, which is in the middle of a campaign protesting capital punishment for those under 18.