By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
After the recent botched Oklahoma execution of Clayton Lockett, State Senator Connie Johnson (D-Forest Park) held a press conference to introduce a Concurrent Resolution to halt all executions in the state for one year.
Lockett was found guilty of the 1999 shooting death of 19-year-old, Stephanie Nieman.
Senate Concurrent Resolution 43 calls for an independent investigation into the sources of drugs used in lethal injections and issues related to the cost effectiveness and constitutionality of capital punishment.
Johnson said. “When the public, the people who are being executed and the families are not aware of what’s contained in the cocktail, that is a violation of the Constitution.
“We’re planning to introduce a resolution that will call for a moratorium on the death penalty in Oklahoma, until an independent thorough investigation can be conducted by an outside source.
“The legislative and executive branches’ high level of disregard for people they intend to execute came full circle in the Governor’s willingness to press for the execution to proceed in spite of the lack of transparency about the drugs used to kill Mr. Lockett.”
Rep. Seneca Scott (D-Tulsa) says he plans to introduce a similar proposal in the House.
Attorney David Slane said a group of attorneys are looking at the possibility of filing a federal class action lawsuit against the State of Oklahoma for what they contend is a violation of the 8th Amendment to the Constitution.
On April 29, the execution began at 6:23 p.m. After being declared unconscious at 6:33 p.m. Lockett began “writhing and breathing heavily” before the curtains were closed to the witness room.
Lockett, 38, died about 40 minutes after the first drug in the state’s untested three-drug lethal injection protocol was administered.
Adam Leathers, co-chairman of the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, accused the state of having “tortured a human being in an unconstitutional experimental act of evil.”
Lydia Polley, OK-CADP former chair said, “Surely the outrageous, cruel and unusual suffering imposed on Mr. Lockett will be a wake up call to our Governor, Legislators and DOC officials that we must have open, transparent, and public accountability for how our Government is conducting executions.”
Governor Fallin has called for an investigation to be led by a member of her cabinet, Department of Public Safety Commissioner Michael Thompson.
Brady Henderson, Legal Director of the ACLU of OK said, “The Governor’s proposal creates a serious conflict of interest. Over the past few weeks, the Attorney General and Governor fought every attempt at transparency or accountability in our execution process, promoting a secret, and very flawed, lethal injection system.”
Referring to the investigation, Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton said, “I believe the report will be perceived as more credible if conducted by an external entity.”
Immediately after the botched execution, the Governor issued a stay for Charles Warner who was to be put to death two hours after Lockett.
Warner was convicted for the 1997 death of his girlfriend’s 11-month-old daughter, Adriana Waller. His new execution date is May 13 if the independent review is completed. An additional stay of execution will be issued if necessary.
Warner’s attorney, Lanita Henricksen said Shonda Waller, the mother of the victim, “was emphatic that executing Charles Warner would dishonor her and her child and that his execution would take her back to the despair that she experienced at the time of the child’s death. She has forgiven Warner and does not want him to be executed.”
Waller told Henricksen, “I wouldn’t want his family to suffer the way I’ve suffered, or have his child to have to endure losing her father.”
Dr. Rev. William Tabbernee, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Conference of Churches; said, “The ‘stay of execution’ should be extended to all inmates on death row in Oklahoma and be a moratorium until all aspects of the death penalty in Oklahoma have been examined.”
A statement from the National Coalitions to Abolish the Death Penalty read “These desperate and disturbing attempts to maintain the death penalty in Oklahoma may well be its undoing, as more people confront the ugly reality of this practice.”