Oklahoma Puts All Executions on Hold for Six More Months

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Inmate Charles Warner, the second of two Oklahoma death row prisoners originally scheduled to die on April 29th, won't go to the lethal injection chamber until at least November 13th. That's thanks to a stay of execution that the state has agreed to while an investigation continues into the death of Clayton Lockett, the inmate who did following a botched execution that night. Lockett, who went to the lethal injection chamber first, died of what was apparently a heart attack 43 minutes after the procedure began, and was later called off, after the injection procedure failed. Last week, Oklahoma released a timeline of events leading to Lockett's unusual death, but few answers are forthcoming.

Lockett's botched execution prompted pretty widespread criticism from opponents of the death penalty, along with some organizations who have remained neutral on the punishment. Oklahoma used an untested dosage of a three-drug cocktail for the lethal injection procedure, over the objections of Lockett and Warner's legal teams. Because Oklahoma refused to disclose the source of those drugs, the legal teams argued, it was impossible to determine ahead of time whether the procedure would be conducted constitutionally. After some legal wrangling, the executions were put on the schedule back-to-back for April 29th. Lockett went first, and the ensuing disaster prompted the state to stay Warner's execution until May 13th as the state conducted a preliminary investigation.

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But that investigation will likely take longer than two weeks, meaning Warner's legal team was able to successfully request a longer stay. In his assessment of Lockett's execution, Robert Patton, the head of Oklahoma’s Department of Corrections, asked for an indefinite stay of executions in the state until investigators completed their work, and while Corrections employees were trained in any new needed procedures as a result of that investigation. In a statement on Thursday, Assistant Attorney General Seth Branham wrote that "Should additional time be needed for the implementation of any changes or adjustments, the state will request it." 

Lockett was sent to the lethal injection chamber for kidnapping and shooting 19-year-old Stephanie Neiman in 1999. (Lockett also raped one of Neiman's friends.) Neiman survived her initial shooting wounds, and was buried while she was still alive. Warren was sentenced to death for raping and killing an 11-month-old infant. The family of Lockett's victim supported the death sentence; the family of Warren's victim opposed it, the Guardian reported. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.