The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

National and world

April 20, 2014

Oklahoma man faces execution Tuesday in 1999 death

OKLAHOMA CITY — OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma death row inmate who’s been trying for months to find out more about the drugs the state would use to kill him faces a Tuesday execution unless a court intervenes.

Clayton Lockett, 38, 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. He has filed court papers to learn more about Oklahoma’s execution protocol, but has not challenged his guilt or sentence.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court and the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals differ on who should address requests for stays of execution. Lockett filed a lawsuit seeking information about the drugs with death-row inmate Charles Warner, who is scheduled to die April 29.

An Oklahoma County District Court judge has ruled Lockett and Warner are entitled to know who made the drugs to be used at their executions.

That ruling currently is being appealed to the state Supreme Court.

Barring intervention, Lockett will be executed 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.

Lockett refused to appear at his February clemency hearing, where the board voted 4-1 in denying his request. He originally was scheduled to be executed March 20.

“(The family) had to endure something no one should have to endure,” Lockett’s lawyer, David Autry, said. “(Mr. Lockett) has had time to reflect and is sincerely and genuinely remorseful for his actions, for which there is no excuse.”

But Mark L. Gibson, the retired district attorney who prosecuted the case, testified that Lockett committed the crime not because of drugs, alcohol, rage or mental illness, but because he was purely evil.

“Clayton Lockett thrives on fear, not because he killed, because others have done that ... but because he enjoyed it,” Gibson said.

The attorney general’s office 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 Bobby Bornt’s home in Perry seeking repayment of a $20 debt.

The three men bound Bornt and beat him with a shotgun while his 9-month-old son slept in the next room.

Nieman and a friend dropped by to invite Bornt 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.

Lockett admitted in the confession that he originally intended to kill the three adults because he feared police would learn he had violated terms of his probation from a previous felony.

After Nieman said she would tell police, he 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.

The other two victims reported the attack to police the next morning. Lockett’s cousin led officers to Nieman’s body.

The 10th U.S. Circuit of Appeals upheld Lockett’s conviction and death sentence in 2003.

At the time of the killings, Lockett was a four-time convicted felon. He’s also been cited for bad behavior several times in prison since the conviction, including breaking off a sprinkler head and flooding a common room and spraying human waste out of a shampoo bottle onto a correctional officer.

While in prison, Lockett wrote to Nieman’s family to apologize. The attorney general’s office said it was a hollow gesture intended only to save his life.

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