Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

National news

May 9, 2014

Oklahoma court agrees to 6-month stay of inmate execution

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals agreed Thursday to a six-month stay of execution for a death row inmate while an investigation is conducted into last week’s botched lethal injection.

The court reset the execution date of inmate Charles Warner to Nov. 13. Warner’s attorneys requested the 180-day delay, and the state Attorney General Scott Pruitt said Thursday in a court filing he wouldn’t object.

While the stay only applies to Warner, Pruitt and Gov. Mary Fallin have said the state will not carry out any executions until the investigation is complete, which is expected to take at least eight weeks.

“If the state is allowed to enforce the ultimate penalty of death, it is incumbent upon this court to allow the state the time necessary to ensure that the penalty is carried out in a constitutionally sound manner,” Justice Charles Johnson wrote in a specially concurring opinion.

Warner was scheduled for execution on the same night last week as Clayton Lockett in what would have been the state’s first double execution since 1937. But Lockett’s vein collapsed during his lethal injection, prompting prison officials to halt the execution. He later died of a heart attack.

Fallin then issued a two-week stay of execution for Warner, but his attorneys asked for a six-month delay. Pruitt’s office agreed in a motion filed with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.

“Should additional time be needed for the implementation of any changes or adjustments, the state will request it,” Assistant Attorney General Seth Branham wrote.

The investigation into Lockett’s botched execution is expected to take between eight and 12 weeks and will include an autopsy and toxicology tests on Lockett, said Capt. George Brown, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, which is conducting the probe.

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