Obama calls for review of death penalty after botched killing
May 2nd, 2014
01:31 PM ET
4 months ago

Obama calls for review of death penalty after botched killing

Washington (CNN) – Calling a botched state killing in Oklahoma "deeply troubling," President Barack Obama said Friday the federal government would review death penalty procedures around the country.

Obama said he's asked Attorney General Eric Holder to conduct an analysis of how death row criminals are killed after an execution attempt in Oklahoma left an accused murderer writhing and convulsing following a lethal injection.

"I think we do have to, as a society, ask ourselves some difficult and profound questions around these issues," Obama said during a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, while reaffirming his belief the death penalty is an appropriate punishment for certain crimes.

Related: Obama, Merkel disagree on spying issues

On Tuesday, Oklahoma officials said the planned execution of convicted murderer and rapist Clayton Lockett went awry several minutes after he was administered the first of three drugs in the lethal injection cocktail.

Witnesses report Lockett uttered the words "Man," "I'm not," and "something's wrong" before blinds separating media and the execution chamber were lowered.

A reporter said Lockett still appeared to be alive when the partition was lowered, making it impossible for witnesses to view the remainder of the procedure.

Lockett eventually died of a heart attack, officials said.

During his press conference Friday, which focused largely on the situation in Ukraine, Obama pointed to other "significant" flaws in the country's execution system.

"Racial bias. Uneven application of the death penalty. Situations in which there were individuals on death row who later on were discovered to have been innocent because of exculpatory evidence - all these I think do raise significant questions about how the death penalty is being applied," he said.


Filed under: Eric Holder • Oklahoma • President Obama
soundoff (110 Responses)
  1. RandyKC

    I think the Bill of Rights requires us to have a federal stance on the death penalty. The guarantee of life means that we need to define when and under what circumstances that right is taken away at the Federal level.

    May 2, 2014 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    "Bring back the guillotine. It's quick and it works."

    Don't worry...we're building them as fast as we can after the McCutcheon SCOTUS decision.

    May 2, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  3. Jake

    In 1999, Clayton Darrell Lockett kidnapped, beat and shot 19-year-old Stephanie Neiman and ordered accomplices to bury her alive; this was after forcing the victim to witness the gang rape of a friend of Neiman. He was convicted of murder, rape, forcible sodomy, kidnapping, assault and battery, and burglary in 2000, and sentenced to death.

    In 1992, at the age of 19, he pleaded guilty in Kay County to burglary and knowingly concealing stolen property. He received a seven-year prison sentence. Earlier that year, he pleaded no contest to two counts of intimidating state witnesses. At his murder trial both DNA from the dead victim, fingerprints from the duct tape used to bind the victim and eye witness testimony led to his murder conviction. Lockett chose Stephanie Neiman, a 19 year old high school graduate at random during a crime spree shortly after being released from prison. After being beaten, she was asked by Lockett if she would go to the police. After Nieman stated she would go to the police, Lockett decided to kill Neiman and dispose of the body.

    His death was not horrifying. His actions that led to his conviction are Horrifying. He got exactly what he was owed.

    May 2, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  4. mim

    This animal deserved the outcome. He raped a girl of nineteen years old, and had two other scum bags to bury her alive, while he watched and participated. The only problem, the death penalty takes too long. Taxpayers should not have to pay $70,000 a year to keep this animal in prison for live.

    May 2, 2014 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  5. bobo

    A rifle bullet through the head is just about 100% effective.... and cheaper!

    May 2, 2014 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  6. Hp

    For his crimes, justice was served. Electric chair hanging or a bullet will work.

    May 2, 2014 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  7. Crampon

    If the correct person is being executed, there is no such thing as "botched". Obama is confusing his botched presidency with minor matters again.

    May 2, 2014 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  8. Shawn

    If you have any sympathy for the nothing that got what he deserved in OK, I redirect you to the story of his victim.

    He cashed in his humanity card the day he committed his crime. After that, he was nothing, and deserved much worse than the simple way he died.

    May 2, 2014 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  9. Mel

    The death penalty means the person who kills will not kill again. Life without parole means we pass the buck to the guards who have an even harder time keeping criminals who have nothing to lose from acting out. The headline is wrong...this was not a botched execution...the criminal who killed someone horrifically died. Maybe it would be more humane (and cheaper) to forget about lethal injections and do with a simple bullet.

    May 2, 2014 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  10. Victim rights

    More justice for the criminal than the victim?

    May 2, 2014 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  11. Mark

    Yes, review it. Make it less costly and more efficient, and start using it more.
    I have zero sympathy for this man and could care less how we disposed of him. I only wish it was done sooner.

    Losing our humanity? More like losing our testicular fortitude.

    May 2, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  12. Silence DoGood

    @Reggie53
    What about the victim? Was the victim given a chance not to be killed? I have no sympathy for what happened to this prisoner because he showed no mercy to his victim. I am sure his victim suffered an even worse death than he did. He was sentenced to the death penalty and he got it. Obama should stay out of it....we do not need to hear what the left/democrats have to say about it.
    ----------------
    Obama is going after this because it is against the 8th Amendment to the Constitution. Funny how conservatives always talk about Obama destroying the Constitution, but seem to be looking the other way when he upholds it! Maybe more conservatives should READ it for themselves instead of letting AM radio talk show entertainers tell them what it says.

    May 2, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  13. Lynn

    He died better than his victim. The death penalty works, those individuals will never kill again. The President should worry about getting his own house in order before worrying if a convict died peacefully.

    May 2, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  14. rubytu

    Executions are about who we are as a people. If this article's responses don't convince you of that, think about it. Justice is supposed to be impartial and not about emotion, but a result of rational thought. Of course it makes us angry and emotional to hear of such terrible crimes, but we are still murdering people only via the state. Sanctioned murder. This won't help deter murder until we understand that where we need to eliminate murder is in our hearts.

    May 2, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  15. FreshDougy

    My humanity is safe. How long does it take suffocate after being raped, shot and buried alive? I think he got off easy.

    May 2, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  16. Anomic Comic

    Nothing cruel or unusual about a firing squad. In fact, I'd say it's quite apropos to terminate these diseased animals with the same instrumentality that many use to take the lives of their own victims.

    May 2, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  17. CrazyClown

    Again, time and time again, the Democratic "Criminal Coddler" Liberals, are showing their True colors, by showing more concern for the Criminal Murderers, than the Victims or the Victims Famalies !
    America does not need these Liberal Criminal Coddlers in office, and they should be Voted out !!

    May 2, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  18. Bill Reynolds

    It is interesting that many death penalty supporters demand that the Courts rigidly follow their interpretation of the 2nd amendment but have no problems when execution methods clearly violate the 8th amendment of the Constitution..

    May 2, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  19. ATPMSD

    The only problem with the death penalty it that it takes too long to get around to carrying it out.

    May 2, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  20. VicMorrow

    A review of the death penalty in the US shows we don't execute nearly as often or as promptly as we should. A review of the death penalty shows that members of the Obama regime should be at the head of the list for execution.

    May 2, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  21. Eddy

    He deserved way more than what he got.

    May 2, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  22. Diogenes

    Review, reinstate where necessary, and reinforce it

    May 2, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  23. Freedom 77

    The reason for the death pnealty is that it protects the law abiding American from the crominal. Faster due process will help us all.

    May 2, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  24. CrazyClown

    The Democratic Coddlers, who Advocate Against the Death Penalty are another reason that Taxes are so high to Build those prisions, and have to hire more Security staff, that require uniforms, hourly pay, benefits and house those Deadbeat Degenerate Murderers, but the Liberal Criminal Coddlers will Spin & Twist the facts to push their own Twisted Phony Agenda, as we are seeing, enough is enough of these Liberal Criminal Coddlers !!

    May 2, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  25. much thunder...little rain

    the 19 yr old girl that was slain was named stephanie neiman...please let ag holder know how she died...then talk to me about being deeply troubled

    May 2, 2014 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
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