The execution of convicted murderer Charles Frederick Warner is set for Nov. 13 after the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals on Thursday issued a 180-day stay in the case.
Warner had been scheduled for execution on Tuesday.
The stay of execution came hours after the state attorney general’s office filed a response with the court suggesting Warner’s execution be pushed back 180 days.
Warner, 46, had been set for execution April 29, but the procedure was delayed for two weeks by Gov. Mary Fallin after the botched lethal injection that day of murderer Clayton Derrell Lockett, 38.
The state attorney general’s office supports a stay until an investigation into Lockett’s execution is complete, Assistant Attorney General Seth Branham wrote in the Thursday filing.
Fallin, through an April 30 executive order, appointed Michael Thompson, commissioner of the state Public Safety Department, to lead the investigation into what went wrong during Lockett’s execution. Lockett’s body tensed and jerked for three minutes before the blinds were closed in the death chamber. He died 43 minutes into the execution of an apparent heart attack, however, his death was not witnessed by the media.
Branham wrote that his office did not advise an indefinite stay but indicated it was clear from statements made by Fallin, state Corrections Department Director Robert Patton and Attorney General Scott Pruitt that no executions would take place in the state until Thompson’s investigation is complete.
Thursday’s response from the attorney general also called into question the motives of Warner’s legal defense, saying Warner’s lawyers had failed to present a civil rights challenge in his case against the state.
“Warner’s litigation conduct over the past 60 days demonstrates a strategic choice by his counsel to pursue an endless media campaign against capital punishment in Oklahoma instead of exhausting available legal remedies in the proper court,” Branham wrote.
Warner’s federal public defender, Madeline Cohen, said they have pursued all available legal options.
“The horrific botching of Clayton Lockett’s execution now presents us with tangible and non-speculative evidence of the problems we feared. We are, as I have said before, evaluating all of our legal options in light of that,” Cohen said.
Cohen said she was relieved to hear the court had granted Warner a stay and stressed the importance of fully investigating what happened on April 29 before proceeding with further executions.
“Lockett’s agonizing death must be replaced with transparency in order to ensure that executions are legal and humane.”
In a separate filing, the attorney general’s office also asked that an execution date be set for another Oklahoma inmate, Richard Glossip. In that filing, Branham wrote that even though the state needs to consider Thompson’s investigation, it is important to set a date for Glossip’s execution to strengthen the public’s confidence Glossip will be put to death for his crimes.
Glossip, 51, was sentenced to die for his role in the 1997 killing of Barry Alan Van Treese at Oklahoma City’s Best Budget Inn.
Glossip, who is now 51, was a manager at the motel. Prosecutors said Glossip feared being fired and devised a plot to kill Treese. The motel’s maintenance man, Justin Sneed, pleaded guilty to killing Treese, and he testified against Glossip in exchange for a sentence of life without parole.