Oklahoma’s Attorney General has agreed to a 6-month stay of execution for Charles Warner, a death row inmate scheduled to die on May 13, after the April 29 attempt to put inmate Clayton Lockett to death went horribly awry. That execution ignited a national debate over the lethal injection and the death penalty in America.Warner’s attorneys requested a six month stay while officials conduct an investigation into the botched execution. Gov. Mary Fallin had moved Warner’s execution date two weeks, to May 13, when she announced the investigation into Lockett’s execution and the state’s execution protocols.
“The Attorney General will not object to a 180-day stay by this Court to allow for completion of Commissioner Thompson’s investigation,” the court filing read. Attorney General Scott Pruitt had said he did not think any executions should take place until the investigation was finished, but today’s filing makes that official.
“We are pleased that the AG agrees that Oklahoma cannot carry out a constitutional execution right now, and that a stay of at least six months is necessary to ensure the investigation into Clayton Lockett’s botched execution is completed, and to allow the Department of Corrections time to revise its protocol and train its staff,” Madeline Cohen, Warner’s attorney, told msnbc in an email. “We hope the court will act quickly to enter the stay, so that Mr. Warner no longer faces imminent execution.”
“Lockett’s agonizing death must be replaced with transparency in order to ensure that executions are legal and humane,” added Susanna Gattoni and Seth Day, attorneys for Warner, in a statement.
Warner’s attorneys and Lockett had been fighting in court to get information about the drugs that were to be used in the lethal injections, arguing that the secrecy surrounding the source and composition of the drugs made the risk of something going wrong too high to accept.
Cohen also told msnbc she has doubts about the state’s inquiry into its procedures. “We have serious concerns about the “independence” of the investigation the state is conducting,” she said. “We hope that a truly independent investigation will be possible, so that we find out what caused Mr. Lockett’s agonizing death, and can bring transparency to Oklahoma’s execution practices that are currently shrouded in secrecy.”
On Wednesday, a panel of experts issued a report with dozens of recommendations for overhauling capital punishment in the United States. In addition to calling for an end to the sort of multi-drug execution cocktails used to execute Lockett – cocktails that are sometimes not even approved for use in animals - the panel called for greater transparency on execution protocols.
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