MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

April 27, 2014

Two slated for execution Tuesday


Associated Press

— OKLAHOMA CITY — Two death row inmates who had sued the state Department of Corrections over the secrecy surrounding its execution protocol in the state are to be put to death Tuesday at the state penitentiary in McAlester in Oklahoma’s first double execution since 1937.

Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner sued the state of Oklahoma in February. After a lengthy battle that took the case to four different courts, and triggered a showdown between the state Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals, the men were ultimately set to die this week.

Lockett, 38, who had been scheduled for execution last Tuesday, is to die first. He was convicted of shooting 19-year-old Stephanie Nieman with a sawed-off shotgun and watching as two accomplices buried her alive in rural Kay County in 1999.

Warner, 46, was convicted of the 1997 rape and murder of 11-month-old Adrianna Walker, the daughter of his roommate.

Prosecutors say that, on the day of the infant’s murder, her mother had gone to the grocery store and left Warner home alone with his other children and the baby. When she came back, they decided as a group to run errands. Warner brought the infant out of a bedroom to her mother and told her the infant wasn’t breathing.

Warner then drove the children and his roommate to the emergency room, where the infant was pronounced dead. At the emergency room, doctors noticed obvious signs of recent physical and sexual abuse and alerted authorities, who arrested Warner.

Warner maintains he is innocent. At his clemency hearing in March, his former roommate asked the Pardon and Parole Board to grant him clemency because, although she did not want him to leave jail, she thought his death would cause even more trauma to her and the children.

During his trial, the state presented witnesses and evidence that Warner had previously physically and sexually abused others and that he was the only adult present at the time of the infant’s death.

The state says Lockett has never shown remorse for killing Nieman and abducting two of her friends and a 9-month-old baby.

According to prosecutors, on the night of the killing, Lockett, one of his cousins and a friend entered a man’s home in Perry seeking repayment of a $20 debt.

Nieman and a friend dropped by to invite the man to a party and were subsequently bound with duct tape. Nieman’s friend was beaten and raped by two of the men before the victims were loaded into two pickup trucks and driven to a rural dirt road.

After Nieman said she would tell police, Lockett forced her to kneel while Shawn Mathis, a co-defendant, took about 20 minutes to dig a shallow grave. Lockett shot the girl in the shoulder, pushed her into the grave and shot her again in the chest before ordering Mathis to bury her alive.

According to an attorney general’s report on the crime, the three laughed about how tough the woman was as the dirt piled up atop her.

At the time of the killings, Lockett was a four-time convicted felon.

In filing their lawsuit seeking more information about execution drugs, the men did not challenge their convictions or sentences. The resulting court battle temporarily caused a showdown between the state Supreme Court, which handles civil matters, and the Court of Criminal Appeals, which takes cases from inmates.