McALESTER — The state of Oklahoma needs more time to prepare for a trio of executions at Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, the state attorney general’s office said in court papers.
Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s office said the state needs at least 60 more days to get ready for the execution of Charles Warner, who was sentenced to death for the rape and murder of an 11-month-old. Pruitt’s office also proposed delaying the scheduled executions of two other inmates, Richard Glossip and John Marion Grant, in the court papers filed in the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Oklahoma.
“(The Oklahoma Department of Corrections) is diligently attempting to secure all necessary drugs to carry out these executions,” assistant attorneys general John Hadden and Aaron Stewart wrote in the court filings. “However, the required drugs are not currently in possession of ODOC’s pharmacist.”
Warner’s execution is scheduled for Nov. 13, but Pruitt’s office seeks to have the execution rescheduled to no earlier than Jan. 15, 2015.
Dale Baich, an assistant federal public defender and one of the lawyers for the death row plaintiffs, said “the discovery process in the current federal litigation is underway and time will be needed for court review.
“The state’s proposal to reschedule the execution dates will allow for more information to be gathered to determine Oklahoma’s lethal injection system comports with the constitution,” Baich said.
In addition to securing the necessary drugs, the state still needs to find medical personnel to participate. The state also needs to carry out additional training of corrections staff and other participants in the aftermath of the troubled execution of Clayton Lockett in April. Lockett took more than 40 minutes to die when an IV line shifted during his execution. An extensive state investigation recommended a series of changes to the way Oklahoma executes its death row inmates.
“ODOC is in the process of obtaining the necessary-medical personnel,” the attorneys wrote. “However, ODOC has not secured commitments from the required medical personnel at this time.
“ODOC has begun the necessary training,” the attorneys wrote. “However, to have the training completed by Nov. 13 will require multiple training sessions to be held each week. The training will involve multiple training scenarios for all execution team members and will include contingency plans for execution equipment and supplies, offender IV access, inmate consciousness, unanticipated medical or other issues concerning the offender or execution team, and security issues at the penitentiary during an execution...the training too will involve implementing into the execution process new equipment obtained by ODOC.”
Corrections Director Robert Patton declined a request for an interview but did issue a statement.
“While we continue to work diligently to meet the mandates of the training required in the protocol, we feel we should not rush the training,” Patton said. “We appreciate the attorney general’s efforts on our behalf and we await the decision from the court.”
Glenn Puit is the editor of the McAlester News-Capital.