OKLAHOMA-- Charles Warner was the first death row inmate to be executed under new protocol in the state of Oklahoma.
Warner was sentenced to death for the rape and murder an 11-month-old baby girl, Adrianna Waller.
Legal experts say last night’s ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court will set a new precedent as civil rights advocates argue for more transparency.
Warner’s execution started more than an hour late because officials were waiting on a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court.
That decision was a close one – 5 to 4 – to reject a stay of execution. Legal experts say at least for now, future executions will continue to go forward, even with a very controversial new protocol.
The decision came down around 6:20 p.m., and Warner’s execution moved forward.
Some justices were concerned about Midazolam, the controversial sedative used in Clayton Lockett’s execution last April.
“There seems to be animosity amongst the court about this drug protocol. The language of Justice Sotomayor was so angry in a sense,” Legal analyst David McKenzie says. “I think her feeling was ‘let's get a little more evidence before we do anything on this.’”
Department of Corrections’s new protocol only allows 5 journalists to be witnesses, down from 12.
“This is the state acting at its greatest authority, the government operating at its greatest capacity, and we should have more sets of witnesses, not fewer,” American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel said.
The ACLU says after Lockett’s execution, there should be more transparency, not less.
“I think what the state is trying to do is limit the number of individuals who can report perspectives to the public in the event something goes wrong,” Kiesel said.
Thursday, it appeared the sedative worked.
Under the new protocol, Warner’s microphone was turned off after his last words.
We heard him through the window saying “my body’s on fire” about a minute after the execution began.
“We then inject them with a paralytic, which makes it impossible for them to rise up off the table, to make any motions, to let us know whether or not they're in excruciating pain the following pain could cause them,” Kiesel said.
DOC officials say even if there’s space, they won’t allow more journalists inside the witness room.
None of Adrianna Waller’s family were present Thursday night.
She would be 18-years-old now.
The next execution in our state is in less than 2 weeks.