State lawmakers to host study on death penalty in Oklahoma

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Although it has been five years since Oklahoma performed its last execution, state lawmakers are taking a closer look at the process.

In 2014, the State of Oklahoma executed Clayton Lockett for killing 19-year-old Stephanie Nieman in 1999.

The resulting 43-minute procedure featured a never-before-used combination of execution drugs and went awry as Lockett awoke from his unconscious state, and began twitching and convulsing on the table.

Clayton Lockett
Clayton Lockett

“The doctor checked the IV and reported the blood vein had collapsed, and the drugs had either absorbed into tissue, leaked out or both,” according to a previously released timeline.

Lockett died of a heart attack 43 minutes after the execution began.

In 2015, Charles Warner was put to death for the rape and murder of 11-month-old Adrianna Walker in 1997.

Before the three-drug cocktail was administered, Warner was heard saying, “It feels like acid,” and “My body is on fire.”

Charles Warner
Charles Warner

An autopsy report says the officials used potassium acetate instead of potassium chloride to kill Warner.

In February, state leaders said that a new execution protocol has been put in place after they were able to find a reliable supply of drugs to resume executions.

Authorities say the state will use an updated version of the previous protocol that includes recommendations by the 2016 multicounty grand jury. The three drugs that will be used are midazolam, vercuronium bromide, and potassium chloride.

“It is important that the state is implementing our death penalty law with a procedure that is humane and swift for those convicted of the most heinous crimes,” said Gov. Kevin Stitt. “Director Crow and Attorney General Mike Hunter have worked diligently and thoroughly to create a path forward to resume the death penalty in Oklahoma, and the time has come to deliver accountability and justice to the victims who have suffered unthinkable loss and pain.”

However, attorneys for Oklahoma death row inmates filed a Motion to Reopen the prisoners’ lethal injection lawsuit, which was closed in 2015.

In the motion, the prisoners claim that the grand jury never fully completed its investigation and that the state’s new execution protocol is incomplete.

Now, state lawmakers with the House Public Safety Committee say they will host an interim study focused on the death penalty in Oklahoma.

Officials with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, and Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter will be in attendance. Also, public defenders and an attorney for Richard Glossip will also be speaking on death penalty cases in Oklahoma.

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