A Roman Catholic leader in Oklahoma is asking state officials to consider a moratorium on state-sponsored executions in the aftermath of Tuesday’s botched lethal injection of convicted killer Clayton Derrell Lockett.
Lockett, 38, convicted of killing Stephanie Nieman, 19, of Perry, died Tuesday of a heart attack 40 minutes after a new three-drug cocktail was used as a means to administer a lethal injection.
Wednesday, the Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, said the “unprecedented execution underscores the brutality of the death penalty.”
“The execution of Clayton Lockett really highlights the brutality of the death penalty, and I hope it leads us to consider whether we should adopt a moratorium on the death penalty or even abolish it altogether,” Coakley said Wednesday in a prepared statement.
Coakley said the way criminals are treated says much about society.
“We certainly need to administer justice with due consideration for the victims of crime, but we must find a way of doing so that does not contribute to the culture of death, which threatens to completely erode our sense of the innate dignity of the human person and of the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death,” he wrote.
“Once we recover our understanding that life is a gift from our Creator, wholly unearned and wholly unmerited by any of us, we will begin to recognize that there are and ought to be very strict limits to the legitimate use of the death penalty. It should never be used, for example, to exact vengeance, nor should it be allowed simply as a deterrent. In general, there are others ways to administer just punishment without resorting to lethal measures,” he said.
Coakley urged Oklahomans to pray for peace for all those affected by or involved in Tuesday’s execution and he said his compassion and prayers go out especially to Neiman’s family.
Lockett’s lethal injection was one of two scheduled for Tuesday. However, Gov. Mary Fallin postponed the planned execution of convicted killer Charles Warner for 14 days to determine what happened in Lockett’s situation.