All three of the state’s scheduled executions have been stayed until 2015, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals decided Friday. In an Oct. 13 motion, Attorney General Scott Pruitt asked the court to push the executions of Charles Frederick Warner and Richard Eugene Glossip to January in order to give the state Corrections Department time to implement new execution protocol and secure the necessary drugs and medical staff. The motion also asked for a third execution, that of John Marion Grant, to be postponed until February.
By Graham Lee Brewer | October 25, 2014
All three of the state’s scheduled executions have been stayed until 2015, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals decided Friday.
In an Oct. 13 motion, Attorney General Scott Pruitt asked the court to push the executions of Charles Frederick Warner and Richard Eugene Glossip to January in order to give the state Corrections Department time to implement new execution protocol and secure the necessary drugs and medical staff. The motion also asked for a third execution, that of John Marion Grant, to be postponed until February.
The court decision places Warner’s execution Jan. 15, Glossip’s on Jan. 29, and Grant’s on Feb. 19.
Despite an earlier confirmation from Corrections Department employees that they were prepared to proceed with the executions — the earliest of which was scheduled to take place Nov. 13 — department Director Robert Patton has praised the move.
In a news release issued when the Attorney General’s office asked for the stay, Patton said: “While we continue to work diligently to meet the mandates of the training required in the protocol, we feel we should not rush the training.”
State Corrections Department spokesman Jerry Massie declined to comment on the status of any training execution staff are undergoing or whether the state has successfully acquired the necessary drugs and medical staff.
Warner originally was scheduled for lethal injection April 29, the same night as Clayton Derrell Lockett. Warner’s execution was stayed by Gov. Mary Fallin after problems occurred during Lockett’s execution, which lasted 43 minutes and garnered international attention.
After Lockett’s execution, Fallin ordered the state Public Safety Department to conduct an investigation. The report from that investigation, released in September, found a lack of proper training and back-up planning created a recipe for disaster. The lethal cocktail administered to Lockett collected in muscle tissue in his groin, largely due to an improperly placed IV in his femoral vein.
Guided by the state’s investigation, the Corrections Department revised its execution protocol, adding contingency plans and training for staff. Some members of the execution team now are required to recieve several weeks of training leading up to each lethal injection, and additional medical equipment to assist in the placement and integrity of the IV and drug lines were added to the execution room.
In September, a federal judge questioned whether the state could implement the new protocol and training in time for the executions of Warner and Glossip.
“The steps that need to be taken can hardly be completed by (Nov. 13),” U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot said at the time.
Friot made the comment during a hearing for a case where 21 death row inmates are seeking to stop the state from executing them in the same manner as Lockett. Dale Baich, one of the attorneys representing the inmates, said in an emailed statement the postponements will give them the time necessary to properly litigate the case.
“This process will take time, and it is entirely appropriate that the state has proposed to reschedule the execution dates while more information is gathered and improvements to Oklahoma’s lethal injection system can be made, in an open atmosphere with public oversight,” Baich wrote.
Renovations also were made to the state’s death chamber in McAlester, by widening the “chemical room,” where executioners administer the drugs, and reducing the number of seats for media witnesses from 12 to five.
In a separate court action, the Court of Criminal Appeals on Friday set another execution date. The court ordered Benjamin Robert Cole Sr. to be put to death March 5.
Cole was convicted in 2004 of first-degree murder for the death of his 9-month-old daughter, Brianna Cole.
Claremore police said Cole was playing video games and was distracted by Brianna’s crying. Cole flipped the infant over by her legs, tearing her aorta.