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Local News

May 2, 2014

Thomsen: Lawmakers unlikely to consider ban on death penalty

Ada — Lawmakers are unlikely to consider proposals for a moratorium on the death penalty in Oklahoma despite problems with the execution of Clayton Lockett, Rep. Todd Thomsen said Thursday.

“I don’t think there’s a will in the House to put a moratorium on the death penalty,” he said.

Thomsen said Gov. Mary Fallin’s call for a study of the state’s execution procedures was appropriate, but he would not support efforts to ban the death penalty.

Oklahoma’s use of the death penalty generated national headlines after Lockett’s execution did not go as planned Tuesday. Lockett was declared unconscious 10 minutes after the first of three drugs in the state’s new combination of lethal injection drugs was administered.

Three minutes later, Lockett went into violent convulsions and tried to lift his head. Prison officials halted the execution, and Lockett died of an apparent heart attack 43 minutes after the procedure began.

Officials later blamed a ruptured vein for the problems with the execution.

Fallin has ordered a review of the state’s execution procedures led by Department of Public Safety Commissioner Michael Thompson, a member of the governor’s cabinet. Fallin has said the review will focus on Lockett’s cause of death, which will be determined by an independent pathologist. The review will also examine whether the department followed the state’s current protocol correctly and include recommendations for improving those procedures.

Fallin said Lockett was convicted of killing one woman and raping another in 1999 and was sentenced to death. Lockett sought relief from the Oklahoma Supreme Court and the state Court of Criminal Appeals, but both courts denied his appeal.

“I believe in the legal process,” Fallin said in a news release. “And I believe that the death penalty is an appropriate punishment for those who commit heinous crimes against their fellow men and women. However, I also believe the state needs to be certain that its protocols and procedures for executions work.”

Fallin also ordered a stay for Charles Warner, an inmate who was scheduled to die two hours after Lockett. The stay will remain in place until May 13, and it may be extended if the review is not finished by then.

Warner was convicted of killing his girlfriend’s baby daughter in 1997.

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