OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma’s future executions are in limbo.
Earlier today, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt requested stays of execution for three death row inmates while the U.S. Supreme Court reviews the lethal injection policy in Oklahoma.
Scott Pruitt is asking the U.S. Supreme Court for the stays of execution rather than Oklahoma’s governor because he says Governor Fallin only has the authority to delay a lethal injection for 60 days.
While everyone waits for word from the nation’s highest court, debate continues over the controversial drug cocktail used on Oklahoma’s death row.
The next execution is scheduled for Thursday.
That inmate is Richard Glossip. He’s convicted of killing a motel owner in 1997.
His attorney, Mark Henrickson, says Glossip is relieved that the attorney general requested a stay of his execution.
“Mr. Glossip does not want to be executed on Thursday, and in addition to that he doesn't want to be tortured to death the way Mr. Lockett was,” Henrickson said.
You’ll remember, Clayton Lockett’s execution last April was one of the longest in history.
It took more than 40 minutes for him to die due to several complications in the execution chamber.
That was the first time the state used a different sedation drug called Midazolam, the drug that’s at the center of the case the U.S. Supreme Court is now reviewing.
“I greatly fear there will be more spectacular disasters when people are executed with Midazolam, that people will have conscious suffering and it will be repugnant to the witnesses,” Henrickson said.
At Charles Warner’s execution a couple weeks ago, the Midazolam appeared to have worked. Warner didn’t convulse on the table like Lockett, but he did say in his final words that he felt like his body was on fire.
“Of course we're interested as to whether or not individuals are experiencing conscious pain and suffering and are being to tortured to death or not, but I don't think there's any strategy between the lawyers and the condemned to try to orchestrate what's done on the gurney,” Henrickson said.
Warner was one of the four death row inmates asking for stays of execution, their attorneys saying this new drug cocktail is cruel and unusual punishment.
The U.S. Supreme Court denied Warner’s stay in a 5 to 4 decision.
Attorney General Pruitt says ultimately he believes the U.S. Supreme Court will rule the same way.
Attorneys will argue their case in front of the justices in April, but a decision is not expected until late June.