An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.  - Gandhi

Oklahoma Coalition to Protest Scheduled State Killing of Charles Warner

For Immediate Release:

OKLAHOMA CITY OK (Jan. 6, 2014) – Originally scheduled to be executed on April 29, 2014, Charles Frederick Warner is now set to die on Thursday, January 15 at 6 p.m. at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.

“We at the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty are saddened and disturbed at every execution,” said Adam Leathers, OK-CADP co-chair. “Each one of them is a meaningless act of retribution and vengeance.”

The infamous “botched” Oklahoma execution of Clayton Darrell Lockett last year launched a flurry of global media coverage and litigation.

On April 29, Lockett writhed, moaned and tried to get up before the curtains were closed to the witnesses. The execution was stopped, but it would be 43 minutes before Lockett eventually died.

Lockett was sentenced to death for the 1999 shooting death of Stephanie Neiman, 19, in Perry.

The drug midazolam was used for the time in Oklahoma, which had been problematic in a previous execution in Ohio.

In May a moratorium was placed on all state executions and a state review was conducted which revealed a number of issues, including a lack of training and contingency plans.

In October the state announced a new execution policy that caused an immediate outcry, when it reduced the number of media witnesses allowed to attend from 12 to 5. It also reserved the right to regulate any witness access, giving state officials the power to close the execution viewing curtain and to remove witnesses.

The ACLU and the ACLU of Oklahoma felt the right to know had been violated even prior to the increased restrictions. They filed a lawsuit in August on behalf of media organizations The Guardian, The Oklahoma Observer and journalist Katie Fretland arguing that this right had been denied during Lockett’s execution

“The government took a process already corrupted by secrecy and made it even more difficult for the public to know anything about it,” said Ryan Kiesel, ACLU-OK Executive Director.

Last month U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton dismissed the lawsuit filed by media organizations that objected to the added barriers of the new policy.

In a statement, the ACLU said, “The death penalty represents the most powerful exercise of government authority – the intentional ending of a human life. Without media access to executions, the public has no way to assess the propriety and lawfulness of the death penalty, or to otherwise exercise oversight over this critical stage of the criminal justice process.”

Nationally 35 executions were carried out in 2014, the lowest number in 20 years. With the moratorium, Oklahoma had only three executions compared to six in 2013.

Following Warner, executions are also scheduled for Richard Glossip on Jan. 29; John Marion Grant on Feb. 19; and Benjamin Cole on March 5.

Twenty one Oklahoma death row inmates are suing the state Corrections Department and several of its employees, asking the court to allow them a say in whether or not they can be lethally injected with the same mixture of drugs used in a botched execution in April.

Among the 21 plaintiffs, the four Oklahoma death row inmates with set execution dates made an Application For Temporary Injunction, which U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot dismissed. They have filed notice they intend to appeal the ruling, which found the new lethal injection protocol constitutional.

The plaintiffs maintain the state’s use of the sedative midazolam in a three-drug combination poses a substantial risk of unconstitutional pain and suffering. The case now rests with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“We are afraid of the stunning lack of conscience of those who press for this execution with such vigor and are somehow morally comfortable with human experimentation,” Leathers added.

Last month the Tulsa World and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press sued Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and the Department of Public Safety over records the state has not yet released related to the Lockett botched execution. The suit, filed in Oklahoma County District Court, asks a judge to find the state has not complied with the Oklahoma Open Records Act.

“We fear, as we remember the night of April 29, that Mr. Warner and/or those after him will suffer the same gruesome fate that Mr. Lockett did.”

On Thursday, January 15, at 5:15 p.m., the public is invited to join members of OK-CADP as they stand in front of the Governor’s mansion, 820 NE 23 St., in Oklahoma City during the Charles Frederick Warner “Don’t Kill for Me” protest demonstration. The protest will transition into a silent vigil at the appointed hour of 6 pm until death is pronounced.

Upon the passing of Charles Warner, the state will issue a death certificate as it does for every person who dies in Oklahoma. For Warner, the cause of death will be listed as homicide, which is defined as “the deliberate and unlawful killing of one person by

Leathers added, “We fear that our State’s reputation will deteriorate in the eyes of other States and Nations and people will begin to view Oklahoma as a brutish place of base emotion that prizes emotionally-charged vengeance over justice rooted in reason and logic.”