Oklahoma lawmaker looks at alternative to execute inmates

OKLAHOMA – How would you feel about Oklahoma using a firing squad to execute inmates?

That’s one option a lawmaker wants the state to consider in the wake of a botched execution in McAlester.

Convicted killer Clayton Lockett died of heart attack April 29 – 43 minutes into his execution by lethal injection.

Officials say his vein collapsed when the death drugs weren’t administered properly.

There are death penalty options available in Oklahoma, if lethal injection is considered cruel and unusual.

“Certainly we’re not going to eliminate the death penalty in Oklahoma,” State Rep. Aaron Stiles (R-Dist 45) said Wednesday.

For that reason, Stiles says Oklahoma should look at various death penalty options.

“Is lethal injection, per se, cruel? Or was the process perhaps misapplied in the lethal injection case with Mr. Lockett?”

Stiles is Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and could oversee an interim study that has been filed by State Rep. Mike Christian (R-Dist 93) to examine alternatives such as a firing squad, the electric chair and hanging.

But he doesn’t know if lethal injection should be abandoned altogether.

“Hundreds of executions have occurred without a problem,” Stiles said. “It doesn’t mean we should change the procedure for one incident that occurred here.”

ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel is opposed to the death penalty, regardless of its form.

“I think if the legislature is looking at things like firing squad and the electric chair, they’re missing the real opportunity to have what the conversation should be about with capital punishment,” he said.

Kiesel said any form of punishment should meet standards of decency.

“They’re playing politics with the exercise of the ultimate function of any government, and that is to take the life of its people,” he said, “and to play politics with that is reprehensible.”

Rep. Christian was out-of-town Wednesday.

House officials say the Speaker’s office will decide by the end of the week if the legislature will look into the proposal, which is called interim study 14-033, “Examination of Death Penalty Procedures and Execution Alternatives.”

Rep. Stiles said regardless of the study, what Lockett did to 19-year-old Stephanie Neiman in 1999 – beating, shooting and burying her alive – is far worse than what happened to him in McAlester.