Botched Oklahoma Execution Condemned by White House: 'This Fell Short of Humane Standards'

Clayton Lockett
Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett. |

The botched execution of Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett has set off a national firestorm of activity by his lawyer, the lawyer for another inmate scheduled to be executed in two weeks, and even the White House. A statement released by the White House condemned the execution, which fell short of humane standards and constituted cruel and usual punishment.

"It's the case that we have a fundamental standard in this country that even when the death penalty is justified, it must be carried out humanely, and I think everyone would recognize that this case fell short of that standard," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said on Wednesday.

Lockett was scheduled to be executed, but something went horribly wrong, and the execution was halted. Eyewitness accounts state that he seemed unaffected by the drugs and was actually able to sit up and tell the officials, "Something's wrong." Lockett then began to seize, and the officials lowered the curtains to prevent the audience from seeing what was happening. He was pronounced dead of a heart attack 40 minutes later.

Prison officials say that Lockett suffered a blown vein, which prevented the drugs from entering his system and working properly, but attorneys for Lockett and fellow prisoner Charles Warner believe that the drugs are behind the botched execution. They fought for a stay of execution for both men, citing Oklahoma state policy not to reveal the source of the drugs used in the procedure. They have now called for an independent autopsy and investigation into the execution.

"Today Governor Fallin called for an 'independent review' of the botched execution of my client, Clayton Lockett, but she did not assign this duty to a neutral, third party with independent interests," attorney Dean Sanderford said yesterday. "In order to understand exactly what went wrong in last night's horrific execution, and restore any confidence in the execution process, the death of Clayton Lockett must be investigated by a truly independent organization, not a state employee or agency."

The governor has stayed Warner's execution for two weeks, pending the investigation.

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