The gruesome death of Clayton Lockett as a result of a botched execution last week is unlikely to make Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin rethink her support for the death penalty, based on a statement released from her office Tuesday.
While Fallin said that Lockett’s execution, which stretched for 40 minutes, during which he writhed and groaned before dying of a heart attack, “took too long,” the Republican said that death penalty critics and constitutional rights advocates “consistently forget to mention or even consider … Lockett’s victims.”
In an attempt to justify the procedure, which was shrouded from viewers in the gallery when it became clear something was wrong, the statement describes in grisly detail the 1999 rape and murder of which Lockett was convicted, adding that “Lockett had his day in court. The state lawfully carried out a sentence of death. Justice was served.”
Lockett’s guilt has not been questioned in the week since his execution, nor the judicial process that brought him to death row.
Advocates for civil liberties have argued that new and untested drug cocktails like the one that killed Lockett pose a high risk of painful, prolonged death, which would violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel or inhumane punishment.
Department of Public Safety head Mike Thompson is leading an independent investigation into the execution to determine what went wrong. It is virtually impossible that the inquiry will conclude before Oklahoma’s next scheduled execution on May 13. Charles Warner was initially scheduled to be killed on the same night as Lockett. He filed for a six month stay of execution on Monday, asking the state’s Court of Criminal Appeals to delay his sentence until after the investigation has concluded.
At least one Oklahoma legislator has also vowed that this execution will not shake his faith in the death penalty. Republican state Rep. Mike Christian told the Associated Press, “I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don’t care if it’s by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions.”
Christian called for the Oklahoma Supreme Court to be impeached after they stayed Lockett and Warner’s executions for a short time.