Tag Archives: Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s Botched Execution

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

An Oklahoma inmate’s execution failed tonight after the delivery of the lethal injection drugs was botched and the inmate suffered a massive heart attack on the gurney.

Clayton Lockett, 38, was slated to be the first of two executions tonight in Oklahoma, in what was going to be the state’s first double execution since 1937 (more background on the crime and lead-up to the executions here). However, as reporters waited for confirmation of a time of death almost an hour after the injection was scheduled to proceed, it became clear that something had gone wrong.

Finally reporters were told that the execution had been halted about 20 minutes after the first drug was injected, when Lockett was still moving and mumbling on the gurney.

According to Associated Press reporter Bailey Elise McBride, whose Twitter feed is a blow-by-blow account of what the media was told following the procedure, “Lockett began breathing heavily, writhing on the gurney, clenching his teeth and straining to lift his head off the pillow.”

“It was extremely difficult to watch,” Lockett’s attorney, David Autry, told the AP

More from McBride’s AP account:

“There was some concern at that time that the drugs were not having that (desired) effect, and the doctor observed the line at that time and determined the line had blown,” Patton said at a news conference afterward, referring to Lockett’s vein rupturing.

After that, an official who was inside the death chamber lowered the blinds, preventing those in the viewing room from seeing what was happening.

Patton then made a series of phone calls before calling a halt to the execution.

KFOR in Oklahoma provided a timeline (which Andrew Cohen tidied up for his take for The Atlantic):

6:23 PM – Prison officials raise the blinds. Execution begins.

6:28 PM – Inmate shivering, sheet shaking.  Breathing deep.

6:29 PM – Inmate blinking and gritting his teeth.  Adjusts his head.

6:30 PM – Prison officials check to see if inmate is unconscious.  Doctor says, “He’s not unconscious.”  Inmate says “I’m not.”  Female prison official says, “Mr. Lockett is not unconscious.”

6:32 PM – Inmate’s breathing is normal, mouth open, eyes shut. For a second time, prison officials check to see if inmate is unconscious.

6:33 PM – Doctor says, “He is unconscious.” Prison official says “Mr. Lockett is unconscious.”

6:34 PM – Inmate’s mouth twitches.  No sign of breathing.

6:35 PM – Mouth movement.

6:36 PM – Inmate’s head moves from side to side, then lifts his head off the bed.

6:37 PM – Inmate lifts his head and feet slightly off the bed.  Inmate tries to say something, mumbles while moving body.

6:38 pm – More movement by the inmate. At this point the inmate is breathing heavily and appears to be struggling.

6:39 PM – Inmate tries to talk. Says “man” and appears to be trying to get up. Doctor checks on inmate. Female prison official says, “We are going to lower the blinds temporarily.” Prison phone rings. Director of Prisons Robert Patton answers the phone and leaves the room—taking three state officials with him.

Minutes later—the director of prisons comes back into the room and tells the eyewitnesses that there has been a vein failure. He says, “The chemical did not make it into the vein of the prisoner. Under my authority, we are issuing a stay of execution.”

Charles Warner, originally set to be the second execution of the night at 8 p.m., has had his execution postponed for 14 days while an investigation is conducted.

This sort of prolonged, failed execution is exactly what attorneys for both men were afraid of when they filed appeals asserting their client’s constitutional right to know the source of the drugs being used to execute them. The claims led to a heated back and forth over the past two weeks, exposing tensions in the state’s leadership.

Warner’s attorney, Madeline Cohen, released a statement following the failed execution:

“After weeks of Oklahoma refusing to disclose basic information about the drugs for tonight’s lethal injection procedures, tonight, Clayton Lockett was tortured to death.

‘Without question, we must get complete answers about what went wrong. There must be an independent investigation conducted by a third-party entity, not the Department of Corrections. We also need an autopsy by an independent pathologist and full transparency about the results of its findings. Additionally, the state must disclose complete information about the drugs, including their purity, efficacy, source and the results of any testing. Until much more is known about tonight’s failed experiment of an execution, no execution can be permitted in Oklahoma.”

Related Reading:

A Breakdown of Tonight’s Double Execution in Oklahoma

Man Dies of Heart Attack After Botched Execution

Oklahoma Postpones Execution After First Is Botched

What Happens to the Death Penalty When Lethal Injection Isn’t Quick and Painless?

How Oklahoma’s Botched Execution Affects the Death-Penalty Debate

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Yesterday’s Execution: Brian Darrell Davis, Oklahoma

From Reuters:

Oklahoma executed a man on Tuesday convicted of raping and stabbing his girlfriend’s mother to death during a late night fight in 2001, a state corrections department spokesman said.

Brian Darrell Davis, 38, was pronounced dead at 6:25 p.m. CDT after a lethal injection at a state prison in McAlester, said Jerry Massie, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.

He was the second Oklahoma inmate executed in two weeks and the third in 2013. Davis was also the 17th person to be executed in the United States this year, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Asked if he would like to say any last words, Massie said that Davis replied, “Yes, I would. First I’d like to say that I give the glory to God.”

He then quoted several Bible verses and added, “I shall not die but live. His word is my will and I let his will be done. I give God the last word.”

Davis did not request a last meal, according to Massie.

Davis was convicted of stabbing Josephine “Jody” Sanford, 52, to death after raping her at the apartment he shared with her daughter, Stacey Sanford.

Davis said he returned home from a club early that morning and discovered his live-in girlfriend Stacey and their 3-year-old daughter were gone. Davis said he and Jody Sanford then had consensual sex, argued and fought, and he admitted to stabbing her.

Authorities said she had six stab wounds and a broken jaw.

Davis said Sanford had attacked him and he never intended to kill her. However, jurors found the killing to be especially heinous, atrocious or cruel and Davis was sentenced to death.

On June 13, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin denied Davis’ request for clemency, rejecting a parole board recommendation that his sentence be commuted to life without parole.

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Tonight’s Execution: Steven Ray Thacker, Oklahoma

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Editor’s note: I’m traveling at the moment, so this story will not be updated in real time like the others are. Apologies to anyone coming here for details. It will be updated, but not in the usual timely manner.

From Dan Holtmeyer, for the Associated Press. View the original article here.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma death-row inmate convicted of three murders in three states is set for execution this week after waiving his right to seek clemency from the state’s parole board.

Steven Ray Thacker, 42, would be the first inmate executed in Oklahoma this year. He is scheduled to die Tuesday night at the state penitentiary in McAlester for the December 1999 death of Laci Dawn Hill, 25, in Mayes County.

Hill’s death was the first pinned on Thacker in a three-day period. He was sentenced to life the Jan. 1, 2000, death of a man in Missouri and was condemned to die in Tennessee for killing a man the next day.

Authorities say Thacker’s crimes began as a scheme to steal money from Hill, going to her house under the guise of checking out a pool table mentioned in a newspaper ad but threatening her with a knife.

Thacker’s plans changed, he later confessed in court. He said he took her to a cabin, raped her and stabbed her in the chest twice. He also stole her debit and credit cards and used them to buy Christmas presents for his family.

Fearing discovery, police said, Thacker fled to Missouri, where he broke into several houses, including one owned by Forrest Reed Boyd, 24. Court documents indicate Boyd arrived while Thacker was in his home, and Thacker allegedly stabbed him several times in the back before taking Boyd’s car.

Thacker then fled to Tennessee, where authorities say he killed Ray Patterson, 52, after Patterson arrived to help Thacker tow the car and discovered Thacker’s credit cards were stolen.

Karen Cunningham, a victim impact coordinator for the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office, said members of all three victims’ families plan to be present at the execution. She couldn’t say which, saying plans could change until the actual event.

Thacker’s lawyer, Ray Bauman, declined comment. Prosecutors did not respond to a request for comment.

In testimony to the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, the families of Patterson and Hill painted a picture of permanent grief and shattered lives.

“He took my superman. He took my hero,” Donna Breece, one of Patterson’s three children, said in an interview with The Associated Press. “They don’t get better. You just learn to live with it and God makes it bearable.”

Breece said she believes her father has forgiven Thacker, and so has she.

“It was like he still had ahold of me, and I don’t want to live like that,” she said. “It was just sickening, it was awful. I had to forgive him.”

Breece said she regretted Thacker’s execution only because it would cause grief to his own family. She didn’t plan to attend.

“There’s no happiness in what’s going to happen Tuesday,” she said. “My closure is when I die. I won’t have to live this or put up with it anymore.”

Related Reading: 

Steven Ray Thacker to be Put to Death Tuesday – First OK Execution This Year

Oklahoma Execution of Steven Ray Thacker Set to Go Ahead Tuesday

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Tonight’s Execution: George Ochoa, Oklahoma

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

UPDATED: George Ochoa has been executed.

Oklahoma death row inmate George Ochoa, 38, was executed tonight at the state prison in McAlester for the 1993 shooting deaths of a couple in Oklahoma City.

Members of the Oklahoma Coalition Against the Death Penalty protest George Ochoa's execution.

Members of the Oklahoma Coalition Against the Death Penalty protest George Ochoa’s execution.

Ochoa was convicted, along with Osbaldo Torres, in the deaths of Francisco Morales and Maria Yanez, who were shot to death in their bed during a home invasion on July 12, 1993.

Torres, a Mexican citizen, was also sentenced to death, however, his sentence was commuted to life without parole in 2004 by then-Governor Brad Henry, after the Mexican government raised concerns that he was not allowed to speak with the Mexican consulate after his arrest.

Ochoa’s attorney had argued that he is insane and should not be executed. According to a Chicago Tribune article, Ochoa’s lawyer, James Hankins, “has said in court documents that Ochoa has become so irrational that he can no longer communicate with him.”

The U.S. 10th Circuit of Appeals denied Ochoa’s claim that his mental health should prevent him from being executed and on Tuesday the U.S. Supreme Court also denied his appeal.

Ochoa maintained his innocence in the crimes and asked the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board to grant him clemency. The board rejected his request by a vote of 4-1.

From a story by Sean Murphy in The Oklahoman: ” ‘I didn’t kill those people,’ Ochoa told the board via video conference from the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester during the Nov. 16 hearing. Ochoa also claimed he was being ‘shocked’ and ‘tortured’ by one of his victims, a claim that prosecutors say may be an attempt to feign incompetence. He made similar allegations of being tortured and burned in a handwritten letter last month to the 10th Circuit Court.”

For his last meal, Ochoa requested a meat lover’s pizza and a large Coke. According to an account of the execution in the McAlester News-Capital, Ochoa used his final statement to proclaim his innocence. From the story:

OSP Deputy Warden Art Lightle asked Ochoa if he had any last words.

“I’m innocent,” Ochoa said.

Ochoa spoke no other words than those.

At 6:02 p.m. Lightle said, “Let the execution begin.”

He was pronounced dead at 6:07 p.m. CST.

Ochoa was the 6th execution in the state in 2012 and the 41st in the United States. The execution was protested by members of the Oklahoma Coalition Against the Death Penalty.

Related Reading:

Oklahoma to Execute Inmate for 1993 Home-Invasion Killings

Okla. Man Set to Die for Couple’s Shooting Deaths

OSP Death Row Inmate George Ochoa Set for Execution Today

Courts Reject Oklahoma Inmate’s Try to Stop Execution

Oklahoma Executes George Ochoa for the 1993 Shooting Deaths of Couple While Children at Home

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Tonight’s Execution: Garry Allen

UPDATE: Garry Allen has been executed.

While most Americans were watching the election results, Oklahoma carried out the state’s fifth execution of the year with the lethal injection of 56-year-old Garry Allen at Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. Allen was sentenced to death for the November 1986 killing of his fiancée, Lawanna Gail Titsworth.

According to The Oklahoman, Allen showed up at the daycare where he and Titsworth’s two sons were and argued with her. He shot her in the chest, left, then returned and shot her three more times in the back. When Allen was discovered by police later, a struggle ensued and Allen was shot in the eye.

Allen’s attorneys argued that he was mentally incompetent for execution and that he was insane when he entered a guilty plea in the original trial, however a federal district court judge rejected Allen’s appeal in September. His attorneys appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but that appeal was denied.

Allen had two previous execution dates already, one on May 19, 2005 and one earlier this year on Feb. 16.

Members of the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty held a rally yesterday at the state Capitol where they called on Gov. Mary Fallin to halt the execution. However, the governor did not intervene. The governor also denied a recommendation from the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board to commute Allen’s sentence to life without parole. The board made the recommendation in April 2005, but earlier this year Fallin denied it.

According to the Washington Post, “Allen appeared confused moments after prison officials lifted a curtain separating the death chamber from witnesses. Slurring his words, Allen spoke for two minutes in an address that mentioned both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.”

Rachel Peterson of the McAlester News-Capital has a detailed account of Allen’s final moments.  From her report:

Allen then began to talk. He rambled unintelligibly about Obama and Romney. Allen’s garbled speech about the presidential race coincided with a loud banging noise as the other inmates in H-Unit said their good-byes.

“Obama won two out of three counties. It’s going to be a very close race,” Allen said just before Oklahoma State Penitentiary Deputy Warden Art Lightle asked him if he had a last statement.

Allen looked at Lightle and asked, “Huh?” Then he continued in his garbled speech and then again raised his head and said, “Hi,” to his attorneys. Allen’s unintelligible ramblings continued. He spoke about Obama and Jesus.

“I hope that more realize Jesus is the son of God — the only son of God. Jesus is the one and only savior,” Allen said. This statement was followed by more unintelligible ramblings.

Lightle told Allen that his two minutes were coming to an end. Allen turned his head to look at Lightle and asked, “What?” Then he continued his garbled speech.

One of Allen’s attorneys began to get teary eyed and she leaned down and placed her head in her hands. At 6:02 p.m., when she sat back up, and as Allen’s unintelligible talking continued, Lightle said, “Let the execution begin.”

Allen again turned his head and looked at Lightle and asked, “Huh?”

Then he lifted his head and looked at the witnesses, fixing his eyes on his attorneys. “Hi,” he said to them again. And again they both lifted their hands and waved at him.

His garbled speech continued until the concoction of execution drugs apparently affected his system. He turned and lifted his head one last time and looked at Lightle. He made a loud, strained grunting sound and laid his head back down on the gurney.

Allen’s time of death was 6:10 p.m. CT.

Titsworth’s family issued a statement following the execution, saying, “Our beloved Gail, daughter, sister and mother of two young boys, was taken from our family tragically and senselessly due to domestic violence,” the statement said. “For over 25 years, we have waited for justice to be served and for this sentence to be carried out. We are thankful to close the book on this chapter today but we will never stop grieving the loss of Gail.”

Related Reading:
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Pastor Reconsiders Death Penalty After Being Invited to View Today’s Execution

Oklahoma death chamber

Oklahoma’s execution room

View the original article here

by Jim Grawe | KWCH 12 Eyewitness News

(WICHITA, Kan.) — “I’ve been called upon to do a lot of things,” Pastor Terry Fox says.  “But I’ve got to tell you, this is about the most unique call I’ve ever received.”

The call was from the mother of death row inmate Michael Hooper—convicted of murdering his girlfriend and two children in Oklahoma and set to be executed on August 14th.  She wants Fox–an outspoken supporter of the death penalty—to come speak to her son and then be with her as they witness his execution.

“What I’ve had to ask myself is, will this change my view of the death penalty?” Fox ponders.

Fox never met the killer but has known his mother for quite a while.  She lives in Oklahoma now but lived in Wichita up until about a year ago, and was a regular attendee at Summit Church where Fox pastors.

“She is going through something that I don’t think anyone can imagine,” Fox says.

Fox says he’s also been asked to serve as spokesperson for Hooper’s family.

“I don’t think anyone wins in this situation,”  Fox says.

Fox has earned a reputation for his unwavering conservative views.  But he says he’s learning that talking about something is one thing—confronting it face to face is another.

“I think the older you get the more you realize you don’t know everything,” Fox says.  And you become more open to things in life—the big issues.”

Fox says he’s been thinking about the cases of death row inmates later proven innocent.  He says he’s also revisiting the theology of the death penalty—considering whether it cuts short the possibility of repentance and redemption which he says are major tenets of the faith he preaches.

“It doesn’t make you weak or make you a different person than what you were because you change your mind on some of these big issues in life.”

Pastor Fox says at this point he still supports the death penalty.  How that may change in coming days is anybody’s guess.

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UPDATED: Today’s Execution: Michael Hooper, Oklahoma

Oklahoma death chamber

Oklahoma’s execution room

Oklahoma is set to execute 39-year-old Michael Hooper after challenges to the state’s lethal injection method failed.

Among other challenges to the state’s execution method, Hooper asked that the Department of Corrections be required to have another dose of pentobarbital on hand, in case the first injection of the sedative was ineffective. In his appeal, he argued that if the drug was ineffective, the remaining drugs used in the 3-drug injection could cause pain and suffering that would violate the Eight Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.

However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit denied Hooper’s claim, saying he “failed to offer anything more than speculation that the lack of a backup dose of pentobarbital would be dangerous.”

Hooper’s attorney, Jim Simmons, is now appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“My client was not wanting a delay. He just wants [the state] to do it right,” Mr. Simmons told the Wall Street Journal.

Hooper was convicted of first-degree murder for the 1993 shootings of his former girlfriend and her two children. His death sentences were overturned in 2002, but in 2004 he received the death penalty again.

If executed, Hooper will be the 100th inmate executed in Oklahoma and the fourth carried out in the state in 2012.

UPDATED: Hooper was denied a stay by the U.S. Supreme Court and was pronounced dead at 6:14 p.m. local time, six minutes after the drugs began to flow. According to a prison spokesman, his last meal request included a variety of fruit, cranberry juice and coffee.

According to the Huffington Post, the other inmates in the prison acknowledged Hooper’s final moments by banging on their cell doors.

From the Huffington Post article:

“I just want to thank God for such an exuberant send-off,” Hooper said. “Also, my family for standing by me throughout all this. I appreciate them being there for me through the hardships…I ask that my spirit be released directly into the hands of Jesus. I’m ready to go.”

“I love you all,” he said, then deeply exhaled and closed his eyes.

The victim’s family issued a statement, offering their condolences to Hooper’s family members.

“This has been a long, arduous journey for all of the families,” the statement said.

Read more:

Oklahoma Execution Set After Lethal Injection Challenge Fails

Oklahoma’s Execution Drug Supply Questioned by Inmate’s Attorney

Oklahoma Woman Wants to Witness Inmate’s Execution, but Corrections Department Won’t Let Her

U.S. Court Rejects Oklahoma Death Row Inmate’s Appeal

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Tonight’s Execution: Timothy Stemple

Oklahoma is set to carry out its second execution this year with the lethal injection of Timothy Stemple, who was sentenced to death in 1997 for fatally beating his wife, Trisha Stemple, and running over her with a pickup on Oct. 24, 1996, so he could collect $950,000 in life insurance.

Stemple, 46, and his family contend that he is innocent. His execution is set to take place at 6 p.m. CST, at the state prison in McAlester, Oklahoma.

Last month Stemple’s attorneys appealed to the state Pardon and Parole Board for clemency, but the board voted 4-1 to deny clemency. The governor has indicated she does not intend to stop the execution.

An article in Tulsa World reports that:

In the weeks since, Stemple’s family has mounted a campaign based on their belief that he was wrongly convicted, using analysis from forensic firms they hired to bolster their case.

Jenae Matland Smucker maintains that her brother is innocent and that Trisha Stemple, 30, died as a result of a pedestrian-motor-vehicle collision.

She said last week that Shaun Stemple’s family would be in Mc-Alester on Thursday to support him but hoped they could stop his execution.

“We believe in him and hope to save his life,” Smucker said.

From Reuters:

Stemple was a married kids’ soccer coach in 1996 when he had an extramarital affair and enlisted his girlfriend’s 16-year-old cousin to help him kill his wife of 11 years, according to evidence presented at his 1997 trial.

Trisha Stemple, 30, was beaten with a baseball bat, run over with a pickup truck and left on the side of a road beside her car, whose tire was punctured with a drill to make the crime appear to be random carjacking, testimony showed.

Timothy Stemple, who maintains he is innocent, might have collected on a $950,000 life insurance policy, but his teen-age accomplice testified against him in exchange for a life prison term, court testimony showed.

Stemple asked that his last meal be pizza, prison spokesman Jerry Massie said.

Read more:

Stemple Execution Appears to be on Schedule for Tonight

Oklahoma Set to Execute Man for Insurance Killing of Wife

Spokesman: Okla. Governor Unlikely to Stay Execution of Man Convicted in Wife’s 1996 Murder

Oklahoma Coalition Asks Governor to Stay Execution of Timothy Stemple

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Tonight’s Execution, First of 2012

Oklahoma State Penitentiary’s death chamber is located on the second floor of H-unt. Photo by Rachel Petersen for the McAlester News-Capital

Oklahoma inmate Gary Roland Welch, 49, , is set to be the first person executed in 2012. Welch is scheduled to be executed tonight at 6 p.m. for his first degree murder conviction for the Aug. 25, 1994, slaying of 35-year-old Robert Dean Hardcastle in Miami, Okla.

The first 2011 execution in the U.S. also took place at Oklahoma State Penitentiary , when Oklahoma death row inmate Billy Don Alverson, 39, was executed on Jan. 6, 2011, for the Feb. 26, 1995, murder of 30-year-old Richard Kevin Yost, during a robbery of the Quik Trip in Tulsa, where Yost was the store’s night clerk.

Welch has maintained that he killed Hardcastle in self-defense. The U.S Supreme Court of Appeals denied Welch’s last appeal on Oct. 3. Immediately following the denial, the State of Oklahoma Attorney General’s office requested an execution date be scheduled for Welch. The state Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-2 on Dec. 5 to deny Welch’s request for clemency.

On Dec. 16, Welch attempted to commit suicide in his cell at OSP by cutting his neck with a homemade device constructed out of shaving razors. He was found bleeding in his cell and had to be rushed to the McAlester Regional Health Center, a local hospital, where he spent three days in the intensive care unit.

Welch was released from ICU and is currently being housed in OSP’s infirmary unit. Shortly after his arrival back at the prison, OSP Warden Randy Workman told the McAlester News-Capital that he was doing good. “He’s eating and talking and showed some remorse,” Workman said.

OSP Warden’s Assistant Terry Crenshaw said Welch is being “monitored 24 hours a day and will continue to be monitored up until his execution.”

Read more:

First 2012 U.S. execution is set for Thursday in McAlester, Okla.

Oklahoma death row inmate scheduled for Thursday execution for 1994 slaying of man in Miami

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