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UPDATE: Stay of execution granted for convicted murderers

Clayton Lockett, left, and Charles Warner, right, are suing the state over its lethal injection process.

Clayton Lockett, left, and Charles Warner, right, are suing the state over its lethal injection process.

UPDATE 4/21: A stay of execution for Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner has been issued until final determination of all issues can be settled.

Earlier today Lockett and Warner’s attorneys filed a renewed application for an emergency stay of execution with the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

Lockett was scheduled to be executed Tuesday, using a drug cocktail that has never been used by the state.

Lockett and Warner’s attorneys say they are glad the Oklahoma Supreme Court has issued the stay of execution for their clients.

“We are relieved, and extremely grateful to the Oklahoma Supreme Court for its reasonable decision to stay the scheduled executions of Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner. In order for the courts to be able to do their job of ensuring that all state and federal laws are followed, they must have complete information about the drugs intended for use in executions, including their source. While the state has recently, finally, disclosed its new, experimental proposed drug protocol for an execution, far too little is known about the source of the drugs, their testing and how they would be administered. It is not even clear whether the drugs were obtained legally. With today’s stay, the Oklahoma Supreme Court will be able to fully adjudicate the serious constitutional issues about the extreme secrecy surrounding lethal injection procedures in our state.”

UPDATE 4/21 11:30 a.m.: Two convicted murderers suing the state for more information about the drugs that will be used to kill them are asking the state’s highest court to spare their lives until they have answers.

Today attorneys for Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner filed a renewed application for an emergency stay of execution with the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

Last week the supreme court ruled the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals was the appropriate court to hear the mens’ requests but the appeals court ignored that ruling Friday, maintaining it could not hear their joint requests because neither are questioning their convictions; only the drugs that will be used to execute them.

Lockett is scheduled to be executed tomorrow using a drug cocktail that has never been used by the state.

Warner’s execution is scheduled for April 29.

The condemned men are challenging what they call “a veil of secrecy” surrounding execution drugs because of a state law that keeps the drug manufacturer anonymous.

Oklahoma District Court Judge Patricia Parrish ruled the state law unconstitutional earlier this year but the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office filed an appeal Friday.

It contends the law is necessary to protect the manufactures from threats of anti-death penalty supporters.

Attorneys for the condemned men maintain the safety of the drugs is unknown unless the public knows who is making the death drugs.

“To date, Appellants have received no certifications, testing data, medical opinions, or other evidence to support the State’s insistence that these drugs are safe, or to prove that they were acquired legally,” attorneys for the men wrote in the stay of execution request.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court is not required to hear the condemned mens’ requests but attorneys for Lockett and Warner said they are confident the state’s highest court will issue its ruling before Lockett’s execution tomorrow night.

OKLAHOMA CITY – Two Oklahoma men on death row have another chance for their executions to be stalled while they continue to sue the state to learn more about the drugs that will kill them.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled the Oklahoma Criminal Court of Appeals is the proper venue to consider Clayon Lockett and Charles Warners’ stay of execution requests.

The court of appeals denied the mens’ application earlier this month for technical reasons.

It said both men had already completed the appeals process.

However, the men are not questioning their convictions but rather the drugs that will be used to kill them.

Attorneys for the men said the Oklahoma Supreme Court asked the court of appeals to issue its decision as soon as possible because Lockett is scheduled for execution this Tuesday.

Warner is scheduled to die April 29.

Lockett and Warner sued the Oklahoma Department of Corrections earlier this year.

They question the constitutionality of a state law that allows the provider of lethal injection drugs to remain secret, contending it could violate their constitutional freedom from cruel or unusual punishment.

Attorneys for the men argue if no one knows where or when the drugs are manufactured, the efficacy of the drugs cannot be guaranteed.

Last month Oklahoma County Judge Patricia Parrish agreed with the men, declaring the secrecy law is unconstitutional because it restricts the inmate’s access to the courts.

The source of the drugs has still not been revealed because the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office plans to appeal the decision.

However, the appeals hearing will not take place before either man are scheduled for execution.

Applying for a stay of execution is an attempt to keep the men alive while their lawsuit makes its way through the courts.

The state switched its execution protocol last month after it could not obtain the drugs it needed to kill Lockett and Warner.

Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma Attorney General, said the drug shortage is a nationwide problem and the secrecy law is needed to protect the manufacturers.

Without it, he argues, the suppliers are identified and threatened by anti-death penalty advocates.

Last week Pruitt said the state obtained FDA-manufactured drugs to execute Lockett and Warner.

Pruitt said he believes the inmates’ argument is now moot because the safety of the drugs has already been guaranteed by the FDA.

Before the state changed its lethal injection cocktail it was forced to use drugs from compounding pharmacies that do not face the same strict FDA regulations as drug manufacturers.

Lockett and Warner will be the first Oklahoma inmates executed using the new execution protocol.