MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

March 18, 2014

Oklahoma court resets executions amid drug search


Associated Press

— OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma court on Tuesday rescheduled a pair of executions set for this week and next so state prison officials will have more time to find a supply of drugs for the lethal injections.

The decision came in a lawsuit in which two inmates had sought more information about the drugs that would be used to execute them later this month. The inmates had sought a stay of their executions, but the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals said that request was moot because the state Department of Corrections doesn’t have enough drugs on hand to carry out their death sentences.

“The attorney general’s attestations give this court no confidence that the state will be able to procure the necessary drugs before the scheduled executions are carried out,” the court wrote.

Oklahoma and other states that have the death penalty have been scrambling for substitute drugs or new sources for drugs for lethal injections after major drugmakers — many based in Europe with longtime opposition to the death penalty — stopped selling to prisons and corrections departments.

While the judges didn’t rule on the merit of the inmates’ stay request, they pushed their executions back a month — Clayton Lockett to April 22 and Charles Warner to April 29.

“We were hoping for a stay until the district court can rule, but this effectively gives us that,” Seth Day, one of the lawyers for the inmates, said in a telephone interview. “The district court will render their ruling before those dates.”

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said he is upset the executions have been delayed, but said Warner and Lockett will ultimately still be punished for their crimes.