The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

National and world

March 17, 2014

Okla. lawyers: Drugs not available for execution

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma's prison system doesn't have all of the drugs necessary to carry out an execution set for this week, the state attorney general said Monday, and it hasn't met the conditions under law that would allow a switch to electrocution or firing squad.

The state says it is looking for any way to proceed with Thursday's execution, even if it requires a last-minute procedure change that could trigger appeals by Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner. Lockett is to die this Thursday and Charles Warner's execution date is March 27.

"At this point, it's premature to discuss the next steps in the process. The attorney general's office is exhausting all available options to ensure the punishment for this heinous crime is carried out," said Aaron Cooper, a spokesman for the attorney general's office.

Lockett and Warner already have a lawsuit pending against the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, saying it is illegal for it to withhold information about the drugs to be used in their executions and unfair that they cannot challenge Oklahoma's execution procedures in court.

The men have asked the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to grant them a stay of execution, while an Oklahoma County District Court judge has scheduled a Thursday hearing on Lockett and Warner's claim that state secrecy about the drugs threatens a constitutional guarantee against cruel or unusual punishment.

The state still is seeking suitable execution drugs, pending those hearings, Assistant Attorney General Seth Branham said.

"This has been nothing short of a Herculean effort, undertaken with the sole objective of carrying out ODOC's duty under Oklahoma law to conduct Appellants' executions," Branham wrote in a brief filed Monday in the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. "Sadly, this effort has (so far) been unsuccessful."

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