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Oklahoma Execution Law Declared Unconstitutional

death_penaltyIn a surprise ruling, at least to me, an Oklahoma County judge has declared Oklahoma’s execution law to be unconstitutional.  The ruling said the secrecy law preventing anyone from knowing the source of the drugs used for lethal injections prevented condemned prisoners from having access to the courts.  Under Oklahoma law, no one is allowed to disclose the source of the drugs used, even if an inmate sues and wants the information.  Oklahoma County District Judge Patricia Parrish said that provision violates due process rights guaranteed in the Constitution.

Oklahoma Assistant Attorney General Seth Branham told the judge during the proceedings that the inmates hadn’t proven they were at risk and that there was nothing they could do to stop their execution from being carried out even if they had the information about the drugs. 

The ruling comes from a lawsuit by inmates Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner, who sued the state last month.  Lockett is scheduled to be executed on April 22 and Warner on April 29.  They want to know whether the drugs that are to be used at their executions next month are ‘pure’ and that they wouldn’t suffer before dying. 

Oh, the irony.

Just who are these two stellar citizens who are so concerned about having a peaceful death?

Clayton Lockett – Convicted and sentenced to death for the 1999 murder of Stephanie Nieman.  Lockett and two others forced their way into Nieman’s residence in Perry and accosted her and another resident.  Both had their hands bound with duct tape.  Nieman was raped and then taken to a location in Kay County where she was shot and murdered.  Her body was found in a shallow grave along a dirt road near Tonkawa.  In addition to the murder charge, Lockett was found guilty of conspiracy, first-degree burglary, three counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, three counts of forcible oral sodomy, four counts of first-degree rape, four counts of kidnapping and two counts of robbery by force and fear.

Charles Warner – Convicted and sentenced to death for the 1997 rape and murder of Adrianna Waller, the 11-month-old daughter of his live-in girlfriend.  During the sentencing phase jurors were told that he had previously sexually and physically abused his ex-wife and a five-year-old girl.  His seven-year old son testified that he had witnessed his father abuse Adrianna on previous occasions.  During the fatal attack she was sexually molested.  She had a six-inch skull fracture, a broken jaw, three broken ribs, bruised lungs and a lacerated liver and spleen. 

You’ll have to pardon me if I find it laughable that these two animals are suddenly concerned with having a painless death.  And it seems to me that Oklahoma could end the hassle over obtaining the necessary drugs for executions if the State would switch to one of the other statutorily defined methods – electrocution or firing squad. 

Stephanie Nieman and Adrianna Waller were unavailable for comment.

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