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Politics and Government

Lawmaker, Attorneys, Officials Question Objectivity Of Fallin's Death Penalty Review

State Sen. and U.S. Senate candidate Connie Johnson (D-Oklahoma City) has called on Gov. Mary Fallin to issue a moratorium on the death penalty after the botched execution of Clayton Lockett April 29. Speaking to reporters Monday, Johnson said the government's role as an execution should be carried out in an open, transparent, and accountable way.

“We feel that has not been the case to date, given all the particulars leading up to this execution, and certainly given what we perceive was the rushed manner in which it was executed,” Johnson said.

State Sen. Connie Johnson speaks to reporters Monday/Instagram

Ryan Kiesel, a former state Rep. and the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma, questions whether it's appropriate for Fallin to assign Commissioner of Public Safety Michael Thompson to investigate and review what went wrong.

"These individuals still answer to the governor,” Kiesel said. “They still answer to the same agencies that conducted this botched execution. So it should be without a doubt, without question, they should play no role in that investigation."

Kiesel says the ACLU of Oklahoma plans to release its own recommendation for what type of framework they think an investigation should follow. One name floated during Tuesday’s press conference was former attorney general and current Oklahoma City University president Robert Henry.

Attorneys for the other Oklahoma death row inmate who had been set to be put to death after Clayton Lockett are asking the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to grant a stay for at least six months pending a review into what went wrong last week.

Attorney David Slane says Thompson cannot be objective since he viewed Clayton Lockett’s execution.

“It’s Basic Law 101 that any policeman would know,” Slane said. “A witness does not investigate something, and we do not believe it’s appropriate for an eyewitness to be a so-called ‘objective’ investigator.”

Slane echoed Kiesel’s comments about Thompson’s accountability to Fallin as a Cabinet secretary, and also noted Thompson’s former employment with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. He also questions whether its appropriate for former Assistant Attorney General Stephen Krise to serve as his top legal advisor.

Attorneys for Charles Warner filed the emergency application Monday, citing last week's execution of Clayton Lockett, who writhed on the gurney and moaned before being pronounced dead of an apparent heart attack 43 minutes after the execution began.

Warner was convicted of raping and killing an 11-month-old in 1997. He has maintained his innocence.

He was scheduled to die last week two hours after Lockett, but Gov. Mary Fallin issued a two-week stay pending the inquiry into Lockett's execution.


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