Obama calls for review of death penalty after botched killing
May 2nd, 2014
01:31 PM ET
7 years 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.

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"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. salty dog

    Simply gotta stop worrying about if they suffer a little more than planned, they all deserve worse than they get.

    May 2, 2014 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  2. Sean A

    @Dutch/Bad Newz, VA – Take Back the House

    "Abolish the death penalty and just stick with life without the possibility of parole. I wonder what the pro-lifers think about this issue. Are you pro-life only in terms of unborn fetuses?"

    Pro-life is a popularized way of saying that that you choose to believe life starts at conception, just like saying pro-choice is a popularized way of saying you choose not to believe that. It's such a waste of time to make an argument over the literal interpretation of a group of words rather than the way they're applied and exercised.

    There is no reason that because you think a baby is alive in the womb and deserving of a chance of living life outside the womb that you have to be opposed to the killing of criminals convicted of truly horrible crimes. There are all sorts of good reasons to be against the death penalty, but this is truly one of the most stupid ones people bring up.

    May 2, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |

    Firing squad and/or hanging always worked. We're too busy worry about killing monsters in a humane fashion, when there was no such thought given to their victims!

    May 2, 2014 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  4. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Regardless of what the perpetrator did we are not barbarians.
    Lethal injection is not supposed to work that way.
    If you want to bring back public hangings, and chopping off killer's heads you should lobby for it.
    Until then we have to at least appear to be somewhat civilized and people of our word.
    As an aside, I am all for cutting off someone's hand if they steal, and their penis if they rape.

    May 2, 2014 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  5. smith

    Anybody who feels sorry for this piece of trash needs to have their head examined. What he did to his victims was a 100 times worse. Im glad to hear Obama believes in the death penalty.

    May 2, 2014 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  6. Dead Bear

    Do away with it altogether. It's expensive and barbaric!... And for anyone citing Biblical examples as proof God is pro-death penalty, technically I'd be allowed to kill you for looking at my property enviously.

    May 2, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  7. Joel

    I'd suggest that we take the power to legally kill away from the state, but no, can't do that, gotta be tough or something.

    May 2, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  8. JimBob

    Obama needs to keep his nose out of state business, the job was "botched", the guy paid for his crimes with his life, death is not "feel good", it sure wasn't for his victim who was raped, shot, and buried alive.

    May 2, 2014 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  9. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    But what about those unjustly convicted of crimes???

    May 2, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  10. critical thinking

    Yes, by all means Mr. President, let focus on the real victim here, the poor murderer. Lets make sure that his death is as pleasant as the person he killed.

    May 2, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  11. Michael

    There seems to be a.mis understanding of the law thy shall not kill.
    Some.people think it says thy shall kill.if you make laws yo do so. Are maybe they think it says thy shall kill if we all agree to do so.

    I need you to understand if you take part in killing- weather you think you can make laws that say its ok are not– you are no better then the one your kill.
    And if I have my way you too will be judged as a killer.
    There sre may that I believe should be kill and for many reasons
    But that does not give .me the right to Carrie that out with are without the peoples permission.
    The people lost there ability to make good decisions.
    And person only has a right to defend his sre her selfs.

    May 2, 2014 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  12. BeverlyNC

    Governor Mary Fallon of Oklahoma who defied the OK Supreme Court ban on the execution until the drugs to be used were tested – should be thrown out of office and prosecuted for breaking the law. She should also be tried for murder for this was not an execution, it was a horrible, sickening murder based on incompetent prison officials and a twisted Governor.
    No More Republicans. Common sense NOT hate should be the guidelines of leadership for a Governor.
    Fallon is the criminal.

    May 2, 2014 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  13. Reggie53

    RUBYTU: What about the innocent fetuses? Are you thinking about them as well? Abortions are even being done after 20 weeks and those are real live babies. What about them? And I should feel sorry for this scumbag? No way.....stop killing babies then we can start thinking about the death penalty. These babies are given the death penalty even before they are born. That makes me angry......not this murderer and the way he died.

    May 2, 2014 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  14. Bob

    None of his business. This is not a Federal Issue it is a State issue. Stick to the governing powers granted by our founding documents. If you disagree then change it via the ammendment process. Quit trying to take care of me, I dont think I can take much more.

    May 2, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  15. Joe

    This is what happens when you have a really complex death penalty system. Take them out back, grab a .44 magnum and shoot. Faster, and a lot cheaper.

    May 2, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  16. Loathstheright

    Killing is wrong, no matter who does it....but our conservative christians sure seem to love killing people, I guess their bible says killing is AOK.

    May 2, 2014 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  17. Matthew

    Death penalty is one thing unnecessary cruelty is another. One could argue they 'deserve' the extra suffering, but what does that say about us, collectively if we allow this to continue?

    May 2, 2014 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  18. Jan

    Zero compassion for this monster. He wasn't giving any thought to his victim as he raped, tortured and buried her alive.

    May 2, 2014 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  19. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    I seem to have tapped a nerve. There's a conservative blogger on the Ticker(I think it's Fair is Fair) who is pro-life in all circumstances. That includes the death penalty. Now me and Fair don't agree on much, but at least he has a solid footing to stand on as far as "Pro-Life" goes. I personally think you can be pro-life, support the death penalty & then call yourself a "Christian."

    May 2, 2014 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  20. Me

    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..
    You do not know that he suffered, he might very well have been unconcious and not felt a thing. He also might have felt it and suffered, my point, you can NOT state it clearly violates the 8th amendment because you DON"T KNOW THAT FOR SURE!

    May 2, 2014 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  21. eb

    imagine that the poor baby suffered. fortunately the girl he raped and buried alive found the experience wonderful. that a POS like this is mishandled is waaaay down my list of priorities – but for Obama for whom big problems are beyond his ability, it's precisely ther sort of thing he thinks a President should handle.

    May 2, 2014 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  22. George Hopkins

    I have one small comment on this article. In the united states we do not, as far as I know, execute "accused" murderers, but only "convicted" murderers.

    May 2, 2014 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  23. john

    Stephanie Nieman, 19.

    She was kidnapped, shot twice and buried alive in 1999 a month after she graduated from high school.

    Lockett was involved in a botched raid on a house with two other men belonging to Bobby Bornt when Miss Neiman and another 19-year-old woman walked in.

    Reports from the time said that Mr Bornt owed Lockett money and that he was tied up and beaten during the ordeal.

    Miss Neiman's friend was dragged into the house and hit in the face with a shotgun.

    Under duress, the friend then called Miss Neiman into the home and she was also hit in the face with the gun.

    Her friend was raped by all three men before they were taken to a rural part of Kay County, Oklahoma

    Lockett told them that he was going to kill them all but shot Miss Neiman twice when she refused to give her keys and pickup's alarm code.

    When she was shot dead, she was stood in a shallow grave that had been dug by one of Lockett's accomplices, Shawn Mathis. He told Lockett that Miss Neiman was still alive, but Lockett ordered Mathis to bury her

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    You people cry for him all you want the sick SOB got what was coming, Stephanie Nieman did not deserve what she got from Lockett

    May 2, 2014 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  24. Reasonable Conservative

    This i believe, is one of the few subjects (if there are any others) that i agree with our President on i personally am for abolition of the death penalty, no human should have the power to take human life unless their life or their families life is personally and Directly threatened, Period. This rule counts for abortions too.

    May 2, 2014 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  25. David

    The author referred to this man as an "accused murderer"...He was a CONVICTED murderer that had been convicted and released for multiple other felonies in the past that he should have been executed for.

    May 2, 2014 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
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