Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin today issued the following statement regarding last night’s execution of Clayton Lockett, the upcoming execution of Charles Warner, and the implementation of an independent review of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ execution protocols. The governor also signed an executive order (see attached) authorizing the review, which will be led by Department of Public Safety Commissioner Michael Thompson.
“Last night, the state executed Clayton Lockett. In 1999, Clayton Lockett physically assaulted, kidnapped, and shot Stephanie Neiman, and then had an accomplice bury her alive in a shallow grave. He also repeatedly raped a second woman.
“He was convicted in a fair trial by a jury of his peers. He was then sentenced to death.
He appealed his execution, and that appeal was rejected by both the Oklahoma Supreme Court and the Oklahoma Court of Criminal appeals. He had his day in court.
“I believe in the legal process. And I believe that the death penalty is an appropriate punishment for those who commit heinous crimes against their fellow men and women. However, I also believe the state needs to be certain that its protocols and procedures for executions work.
“For that reason, I asked last night for a review of the Department of Correction’s execution protocols. After consulting further with DOC Director Robert Patton, we agree that an independent review of DOC procedures would be most effective and appropriate.
Therefore I have asked Department of Public Safety Commissioner Michael Thompson to lead that independent review of the state’s execution procedures.
“That review will focus on three areas:
• “First, Clayton Lockett’s cause of death. Commissioner Thompson has informed me that the state Medical Examiner’s office will authorize an independent pathologist to make that determination.
• “Second, the review will determine whether or not the Department of Corrections followed the current protocol for executions.
• “Third, Commissioner Thompson will develop recommendations to improve execution protocols for the Department of Corrections.
“I expect the review process to be deliberate and thorough. It will be the first step in evaluating the state’s execution protocol. My office and the Department of Corrections will communicate with the Attorney General’s office on any possible additional steps in the future.
“To allow for Commissioner Thompson’s review process to be completed before any further executions, last night I issued an executive order staying the execution of Charles Warner until May 13th. I have not given Commissioner Thompson a deadline to complete his review. If he has not completed his review by May 13th, an additional stay will be issued.
If there are adjustments that need to be made to the state’s execution protocols, those adjustments will be made.
“Charles Warner had his day in court. He committed a horrible crime: the physical abuse, rape and murder of an 11 month old infant. His fellow Oklahomans have sentenced him to death, and we expect that sentence to be carried out as required by law.”