MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

March 18, 2014

State lacks drugs for execution this week

Law’s wording won’t allow switch in methods

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma’s prison system doesn’t have all of the drugs necessary to carry out an execution set for this week, the state attorney general said Monday, and it hasn’t met the conditions under law that would allow a switch to electrocution or firing squad.

The state says it is looking for any way to proceed with Thursday’s execution, even if it requires a last-minute procedure change that could trigger appeals by Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner. Lockett is to die Thursday and Warner’s execution is March 27.

Lockett and Warner already have a lawsuit pending against the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, saying it is illegal for it to withhold information about the drugs to be used in their executions and unfair that they cannot challenge Oklahoma’s execution procedures in court.

The men have asked the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to grant them a stay of execution, while an Oklahoma County District Court judge has scheduled a Thursday hearing on Lockett and Warner’s claim that state secrecy about the drugs threatens a constitutional guarantee against cruel or unusual punishment.

The state is still seeking suitable execution drugs, pending those hearings, Assistant Attorney General Seth Branham said.

Under Oklahoma law, two alternative means of execution are available, but only if lethal injection is deemed unconstitutional: electrocution and firing squad. Because the current delay is based only on a drug shortage, the state cannot switch methods of execution, Corrections Department spokesman Jerry Massie said.

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