Dion Athanasius Smallwood

Executed January 18, 2001 by Lethal Injection in Oklahoma

7th murderer executed in U.S. in 2001
690th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
4th murderer executed in Oklahoma in 2001
34th murderer executed in Oklahoma since 1976

Since 1976
Date of Execution
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder-Execution)
Date of
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder)
Date of
Method of
to Murderer
Date of
Lethal Injection
Dion Athanasius Smallwood

H / M / 22 - 31

Lois Frederick

H / F / 68

Hit with croquet mallet, burned alive in car
Mother of girlfriend

Mother of Smallwood's girlfriend disapproved of daughter’s relationship with him. He entered her home uninvited, looking for her daughter. When the 68 year old victim tried to call the police, he beat her with a croquet mallet, put her in car, and set car on fire. Girlfriend notified police on day of murder, claiming that defendant threatened that day to kill her mother.

Smallwood v. State, 907 P.2d 217 (Okl. Cr. 1995).
Smallwood v. State, 937 P.2d 111 (Okl. Cr. 1997).
Smallwood v. Gibson, 191 F.3d 1257 (10th Cir. 1999).

Internet Sources:

Oklahoma Department of Corrections

Oklahoma Attorney General

10-04-2000 - W.A. Drew Edmondson, Attorney General - Execution Date Set for Five in January

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals today set January execution dates for five death row inmates. On Monday, Attorney General Drew Edmondson asked the court to schedule their executions following denial of their appeals at the U.S. Supreme Court. Scheduled by the court for execution were Robert William Clayton, Tulsa County, Jan. 4; Eddie Leroy Trice, Oklahoma County, Jan. 9; Wanda Jean Allen, Oklahoma County, Jan. 11; Floyd Allen Medlock, Canadian County, Jan. 16; and Dion Athanasius Smallwood, Oklahoma County, Jan. 18.

Death Penalty Institute of Oklahoma

Dion Athanasius Smallwood, 31, was executed via lethal injection at Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. Smallwood was pronounced dead at 9:09pm. Smallwood, who suffered from manic depression, was sentenced to death for the 1992 murder of Lois Frederick, 68. Frederick was the mother of Smallwood's ex-girlfriend. Smallwood's bid for clemency was denied by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board by a 4-0 vote on December 4.

Smallwood was the fourth person put to death by Oklahoma this year. The state has four more executions scheduled in the next two weeks.

At least 15 vigils were held around the state today. Over 50 people attended the prayer vigil outside the gates of Oklahoma State Penitentiary. Many of those in attendance were Smallwood's relatives.


Dion Athanasius Smallwood was sentenced to die for the 1992 beating death of Lois Frederick, 68. He hit her with a croquet mallet, placed her in a car and set the car on fire.

Late on the evening of February 5, 1992, Oklahoma City police and fire fighters were called to the scene of a car fire. After extinguishing the fire, a badly burned body was discovered in the back seat of the vehicle. A check run on the vehicle's license number revealed that it was registered to Lois Frederick of Oklahoma City. Simultaneously, Oklahoma City police were at Lois's home investigating a missing person's report filed by her family. The body in the car was identified as Lois Frederick, and an autopsy revealed that she had died as a result of a severe head injury and smoke inhalation.

It was determined at trial that Smallwood had arrived at Lois's home around 4p.m. Lois, a 68 year old woman, lived at the home with her daughter who was Smallwood's girlfriend. Smallwood's relationship with the daughter had begun in January of 1991, and was marked with numerous incidents of physical abuse. The two had lived together, off and on, during most of 1991, but the daughter had recently moved back in with her mother approximately one month before the murder. Lois Frederick made no secret of the fact that she disapproved of and did not like Smallwood. Likewise, animosity between Lois and her daughter was well known to neighbors, family, and the Oklahoma City police, who had been called to the residence on numerous occasions to resolve disputes between the two.

Lois's daughter was not home when Smallwood arrived there looking for her. Smallwood testified that he arrived at Lois's home intending only to look for her daughter. He walked into the residence, uninvited, knowing he was not welcome, and immediately encountered Lois. She asked Smallwood to leave, grabbing his arm in the process. Smallwood then pushed her away, causing her to fall over backward. Lois, advising Smallwood she would "make him pay" for his actions, attempted to call police, but Smallwood took the phone from her and smashed it. The confrontation continued, with Smallwood conducting a room to room search of the house, looking for the daughter, with Lois in tow. During that time, Smallwood again struck Lois in the face, knocking her to the ground and bloodying her nose. As the two entered one of the bedrooms, Lois attempted to clean up, washing the blood from her face in the adjoining bathroom. Smallwood testified that Lois came out of the bathroom and kicked him in the shin. He responded by grabbing a croquet mallet, and telling Lois that he had no "beef" with her. He testified Lois then brandished a knife at him, at which point he struck her once in the head with the croquet mallet. He left Lois in the bedroom, closing the door behind him, after hearing her choking. He said had no recollection of Lois moving after he initially hit her, and thought he had killed her. Smallwood then attempted to clean up the house, wiping blood from various surfaces with a pair of Lois' socks, turning the bed mattress over to conceal a large blood stain, and placing various items in a trash bag which he then took to the garage. He closed the front door after making sure that no one was watching him, and eventually wrapped Lois' body in the sheets and a bedspread from the bed, and laid her in the back seat of her car.

At about 6:30 pm, Lois's daughter told her aunt during a phone call that Smallwood was going over to kill Lois. Lois's sister called 9-1-1 requesting that someone check on Lois. and the Oklahoma City police went to the house to check on her. The officer tried to enter the house after getting no response, but the doors were locked. The officer testified that the daughter arrived home as he was in the process of investigating Lois's disappearance. The officer said she was anxious, frantic, and excited, and indicated that initially he had no idea what she was trying to tell him. Eventually he understood her to say that Smallwood had her mother, and that he had threatened to kill Lois if the daughter refused to meet him that day. The officer left after looking in the windows of the house and seeing no one. Upon hearing the police officer's knock on the door, Smallwood hid in a storage closet to avoid detection. Lois' body had already been placed in the car, and Smallwood left the residence in her car after the police left the scene.

Smallwood claims he drove around for some time, trying to decide what to do. He called a friend requesting assistance, telling him he thought he had killed somebody. The friend refused to help, and Smallwood eventually stopped at a gas station and purchased some gasoline which he put in a plastic container given to him by the gas station personnel. Smallwood testified he splashed the gasoline around the outside of the car and on the front seat, but denied pouring any on Lois' body.

The Lamp of Hope (Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

January 18, 2001 OKLAHOMA - A man who beat his ex-girlfriends adoptive mother with a croquet mallet, threw her in the trunk of a car and then burned her alive was executed Thursday night. Dion Athanasius Smallwood, 31, was pronounced dead at 9:09 p.m. after receiving a lethal dose of drugs in the death chamber at Oklahoma State Penitentiary. Smallwood was convicted of murdering Lois Frederick, 68, on the afternoon of Feb. 5, 1992, after forcing his way into her Oklahoma City home.

Smallwood smiled at members of his family and then apologized to the victim's daughter. "To the victims of this case, if you didn't hear me before, hear me now. I'm sorry. This (execution) doesn't change anything. It just creates more victims. I am truly sorry," Smallwood said. He then told his family he truly loved them. "I'll be waiting for y'all on the other side." Acquaintances said Smallwood resented Frederick for trying to keep him away from her adopted daughter, Terri Jo Frederick.

Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin and the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday afternoon denied applications to delay the execution made by Smallwood and his attorneys. Terri Frederick was at the prison with her biological sister, Mone Moody, to watch the execution. In Oklahoma City, about 30 people protested peacefully outside the Governor's Mansion. The gathering was organized by Kevin Acres, president of the Oklahoma chapter of Amnesty International and the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. Members of the rally held signs denouncing the death penalty. "Vengeance is not ours" and "Death Penalty is a Hate Crime" were 2 of the signs.

Johnnie Cabrera, whose granddaughter's murderer was executed Tuesday night, was among the protesters. She carried a large banner that read, Do Not Kill For Me. Stop Executions." Cabrera witnessed Tuesday's execution of Floyd Allen Medlock, who was convicted of killing Katherine Ann Busch in 1990. Busch was Cabrera's granddaughter. "I think it is a barbaric ritual sanctioned by the state of Oklahoma," Cabrera said. "It needs to stop. I hope God will have mercy on all of those who allow this to happen and continue to allow it to happen."

Smallwood becomes the 4th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Oklahoma and the 34th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990. Smallwood becomes the 7th condemend inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 690th overall since America resumed executions on January 17, 1977.

Canadian Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (Smallwood Homepage)

The following is a letter from Leslie Delk, who is the attorney for Dion Smallwood. Dion was recently denied clemency by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board.

Dear Folks: Yes, Dion Smallwood was denied clemency yesterday and in the process Assistant AG Bill Hume once again trashed any support from Amnesty-Coalition supporters by claiming "These people have a political agenda--they are opposed to the Death Penalty!" Given the fact that the real political agenda is with Gov. Keating and AG Edmondson--i.e., Keating bucking for US Attorney General and Edmondson bucking for governor or whatever, I find it hard to believe he can still whine about any "political agenda" from AI/Coalition people. AND as if being opposed to the death penalty--opposing injustice--opposing a proven failed ultimate punishment is somehow "wrong." But probably what angered me more was the fact that Hume trivialized Dion's illness and denigrated Dr. Fleming's assessment of Dion's frame of mind and what was probably going on with him at the time of the crime. Hume decided that since Dr. Fleming wasn't actually there she had no way of knowing what happened. Of course, Hume (who also wasn't there) then went on to discuss what happened and what was going through Dion's mind!

I will tell you all that Dion felt extremely gratified by the show of support, not only from his family, but from all of you who wrote, those of you who attended and those of you who kept us in prayer. From Dion, Steve, myself and all of us on this end, we send your our thanks. I also firmly believe that we simply MUST be making public the complete lack of understanding by the state and the board of mental health issues--Dr. Fleming tried to explain that many of these people are in the corrections system when in fact they should be in the treatment system--i.e., mental health treatment. Those of us who have lived with mental illness either personally or with family members need to be more vocal about what has happened in this country to those who need and even seek mental health intervention and how often they are ignored and then subsequently punished for the resulting events.

I also personally am extremely offended that Drew Edmondson can declare his niece to be ill (which I believe and sympathize with) but that because of her family name and money, we all accept that and allow her minimal punishment (note: she also killed someone), while a poor person--one of our "throw-aways" must be "faking" or "creating a mental illness because nothing else worked" and therefore its okay to murder them. How dare we allow such unequal justice in this country--how dare we have "throw-aways"?

Okay, okay, I'm on my soap box, preaching to the choir but we are NOT giving up this fight on Dion and we still have five weeks to make something happen. HELP!

Leslie Delk

. . . and a note from Dion -

"Thank you to each and every person that played a part in this clemency process. I am extremely grateful and I want to let you know that I am touched because of everybody's support and prayers. When I came into the room, I was greeted with love and I don't think I will ever have words to express my gratitude to all of you. I am not giving up hope. I will not allow them to steal that from me. As long as there is life in my then there is hope. Thanks for supporting me. I love each and everyone of you." - Sincerely, Dion.

Dec 5 2000 - Murderer Denied Clemency (By Doug Russell, Latimer County Bureau)

Dion Athanasius Smallwood said he just doesn't understand the logic of it all. "Recently I had to tell my 10-year-old daughter that daddy may die," he told the Oklahoma State Pardon and Parole Board Monday. "That was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. How do I explain the logic that daddy's being killed to teach others not to kill?" Smallwood, 31, is scheduled to be executed for the 1992 murder of Lois Frederick in Oklahoma City.

The pardon and parole board denied him clemency despite the efforts of attorneys, activists and others. Terri Tellez said Monday she feels relieved, as if a great weight had been lifted from her shoulders. Despite efforts of attorneys, activists and others, the man who murdered her mother is to be executed Jan. 18. "It's not going to bring closure," Tellez said, "but it's going to bring justice to my family and my mother."

Tellez's ex-boyfriend, Smallwood, 31, killed Tellez's mother, 68-year-old Lois Frederick, on Feb. 5, 1992. The Oklahoma State Pardon and Parole Board denied clemency for Smallwood after hearing testimony from Tellez, attorneys, a clinical psychologist, Smallwood's minister and nine members of his family. "When Lois discovered Dion in her house, she demanded he leave," Assistant Attorney General Bill Humes told members of the Oklahoma State Pardon and Parole Board during a Monday clemency hearing at Oklahoma State Penitentiary. "That began a two and one-half hour reign of terror that culminated in her death." According to the attorney general's office, Smallwood beat Frederick with a croquet mallet in her Oklahoma City home, strangled her and set her on fire. The medical examiner testified that Frederick's body was so severely burned it was impossible to determine the extent of the injuries she suffered. "The evidence shows Dion hit her with such force the dentures flew from her mouth and across the room," Humes said, adding Frederick was still alive when Smallwood put her into her car and drove around looking for a place to dispose of her body. At his trial Smallwood testified he had placed Frederick in the back seat of the car with her head on the driver's side. Crime scene photographs of the burned car, which had been doused with gasoline and set ablaze, show a different scene. "She is crouched in the passenger side of the vehicle, burned alive," Humes said.

Dr. Patricia Fleming, a psychologist who spoke on Smallwood's behalf at the clemency hearing, said the inmate suffers from bipolar disorder, a mental illness characterized by extreme swings of emotion, from deep depression to a euphoric mania. "When a person is afflicted with this disorder, they are psychotic when in the upper range of the mania," she said. Fleming said she diagnosed Smallwood with bipolar disorder in 1997, five years after he committed the murder. However, Humes said, psychologists who examined Smallwood at the time of his trial did not find he had the illness. Board members Currie Ballard and Flint Breckinridge questioned Fleming about Smallwood's mental state and about her experience working with prisoners. Smallwood, she said, has not been on any psychotropic medications or in any sort of treatment while incarcerated on Oklahoma's death row, yet has had no disciplinary problems. In addition, she said, she has found through her practice that roughly 16 percent of people incarcerated in state prisons have bipolar disorder. On death row, however, the number may be as high as 30 percent. "Honestly," she said. "It's amazing." Only one to two percent of the general population have bipolar disorder, she said.

Almost 40 people attended the clemency hearing to speak on Smallwood's behalf or to offer moral support to his family. Two attended on behalf of the murder victim. (Robert Peebles - Death Penalty Institute of Oklahoma)


"Daughter of Murder Victim Ignores Killer's Apologies," by Thomas Mullen.

(AP) Again and again, Terri Frederick was coaxed back to Dion Smallwood, despite his violent abuse and the ominous threats about what would happen if she ever left him. When she finally left him nine years ago at the pleading of her adopted mother, Lois Frederick, Smallwood reacted to the breakup as he warned he would. He went after her family. On the afternoon of Feb. 5, 1992, he forced his way into Lois Frederick's Oklahoma City home, beat the 68-year-old unconscious with a croquet mallet, then threw her limp body in the back seat of a car and set it on fire.

Moments before his own death Thursday night at the hands of an executioner, Smallwood tried to coax Terri Frederick again -- this time with a wide smile, proclaiming his remorse. ''To the victims of this case, if you didn't hear me before, hear me now. I'm sorry,'' Smallwood said. Terri Frederick wasn't listening. ''He was somebody that I dated. His apology meant nothing,'' she said after watching deadly drugs course through Smallwood's veins. Terri Frederick remembered when Dion Smallwood would choke her until she couldn't breathe, sometimes for seemingly no reason at all. He once pushed a gun into her mouth and knocked out a tooth. ''I remember my mom begging me to leave him as she was so scared that one day he was going to end up killing me,'' Terri Frederick wrote to the state clemency board. Lois Frederick was wrong. He killed her instead.

An autopsy of her remains -- burned beyond recognition -- indicated she died while flames consumed the car she was in. By Terri's side Thursday night was her biological sister, Monnette Moody. She said Lois gave Terri ''a very good life.'' ''She was your typical mom. I know she helped Terri a lot with rent and food and making sure both of them were taken care of,'' Moody said. ''She didn't deserve what she got.''

Smallwood was the fourth person executed in Oklahoma in a span of 10 days. Four more executions are scheduled in the next two weeks, set to further the most furious pace of executions Oklahoma has ever seen. While last week's execution of the first woman in Oklahoma drew national attention, only a few media outlets covered Smallwood's execution Thursday night. A handful of protesters stood outside the prison gates.

But the execution was a big step for 31-year-old Terri Frederick. Newly married and living out of state, she has begun a life she hopes is not haunted by memories of Dion Smallwood. ''I'll finally have peace in my mind knowing that he paid for what he did,'' Frederick said. ''Forgiving him will be a daily challenge that I'll have to work through.''

Shawnee Online

"Man Executed for Killing Mother of Ex-Girlfriend"

McALESTER, Okla. (AP) -- A man who beat his ex-girlfriend's adopted mother with a croquet mallet, threw her in the trunk of a car and then burned her alive was executed Thursday night. Dion Athanasius Smallwood, 31, was pronounced dead at 9:09 after receiving a lethal dose of drugs in the death chamber at Oklahoma State Penitentiary. Smallwood was the fourth person executed in Oklahoma this month, with four more executions scheduled in the next two weeks.

Smallwood was convicted of murdering Lois Frederick, 68, on the afternoon of Feb. 5, 1992, after forcing his way into her Oklahoma City home. Acquaintances said Smallwood resented Frederick for trying to keep him away from her adopted daughter, Terri Jo Frederick. Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin and the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday afternoon denied applications for an execution delay made by Smallwood and his attorneys. Terri Frederick was at the prison with her biological sister, Mone Moody, to watch the execution.

At Smallwood's murder trial, Frederick testified he had attacked her several times throughout their relationship, once even putting a gun in her mouth and busting out one of her teeth. She said he warned her several times that if she ever broke up with him, he would kill her family and friends. In an 11-page handwritten letter to the Oklahoma clemency board, Terri Frederick urged the state not to forgive the man she once loved. "I remember my mom begging me to leave him as she was so scared that one day he was going to end up killing me," she wrote. Frederick wrote that she has suffered depression and feelings of guilt since her mother's death and has attempted suicide several times.

According to testimony at Smallwood's trial, he entered Lois Frederick's home and began fighting with her about Terri, who had recently moved out of the apartment she and Smallwood had shared and filed a protective order against him. After smashing Frederick's phone and striking her, Smallwood beat her over the head with a croquet mallet. He then threw her limp body in the trunk of a car that Frederick forbade her daughter to use, fearing she would go see Smallwood. After driving around for several hours, Smallwood bought some gas, parked the car in a rural area, then doused and ignited it.