The Norman Transcript

State/Region

May 3, 2014

Obama troubled by Okla. execution

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Friday called the botched execution of an Oklahoma inmate “deeply troubling” and said he’s going to ask the attorney general to analyze problems surrounding application of the death penalty in the United States.

In his first public comments on the case of convicted murderer Clayton Lockett, the president, who formerly taught constitutional law, expressed conflicting feelings about the death penalty and said Americans need to “ask ourselves some difficult and profound questions around these issues.”

Obama said the death penalty is warranted in some cases, specifically mentioning mass murder and child murder, and said Lockett’s crimes were “heinous.” But he said the death penalty’s application in the United States is problematic, with evidence of racial bias and eventual exoneration of some death row inmates.

“All these, I think, do raise significant questions about how the death penalty is being applied,” said Obama said, who was asked about the Oklahoma execution at a White House news conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “And this situation in Oklahoma I think just highlights some of the significant problems there.”

The state of Oklahoma attempted to carry out Lockett’s death sentence Tuesday by lethal injection, using a drug combination that had not been previously used in the state. Lockett convulsed violently during the execution and tried to lift his head after a doctor declared him unconscious, then died of an apparent heart attack 43 minutes after the execution began.

“What happened in Oklahoma is deeply troubling,” Obama said when asked about international condemnation of U.S. application of the death penalty in light of Lockett’s case. He said he’ll be asking Attorney General Eric Holder and others “to get me an analysis of what steps have been taken, not just in this particular instance, but more broadly in this area.” The White House and Justice Department declined to comment further on what the analysis might cover.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State/Region
  • Cool snap brings heat relief to Oklahoma, Arkansas

    OKLAHOMA CITY — The dog days of summer are coming in with a whimper. Weather forecasters say a cold front headed for Oklahoma and Arkansas will bring unseasonably cool temperatures and a chance of rain through next week....

    July 29, 2014

  • FBI defends search for Oklahoma City bombing video

    SALT LAKE CITY — The FBI thoroughly searched its archives and found no evidence that more videos of the Oklahoma City bombing exist, agency employees told a judge Monday in a trial that has rekindled questions about whether any others were ...

    July 29, 2014

  • Health officials prepare for flu

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Following a flu season in which a record number of Oklahomans died as a result of the virus, state and county health officials say educating the public and general common sense are vital to reducing both the death rate and ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Scam targets migrants

    HOUSTON — Scammers have been preying on the relatives of unaccompanied young migrants being held at two U.S. military bases by conning them into paying nonexistent fees to be reunited with their loved ones, officials said....

    July 27, 2014

  • Trial delayed for man in murder case

    DUNCAN — The first-degree murder trial of a Velma man charged with killing a 16-year-old girl has been delayed until January....

    July 27, 2014

  • Man seeks video of 1995 Oklahoma City bombing

    OKLAHOMA CITY — One man’s quest to explain his brother’s mysterious jail cell death 19 years ago has rekindled long-dormant questions about whether others were involved in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. What some consider a far-flung ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Man found dead outside Tulsa home

    TULSA — Police in Tulsa are investigating the death of a man whose body was found outside a house on the city’s north side....

    July 27, 2014

  • McCain: Arizona execution ‘torture’

    TUCSON, Ariz. — U.S. Sen. John McCain says the execution of an Arizona inmate that lasted two hours was torture....

    July 26, 2014

  • Okla. food pantries struggle to meet demand

    TULSA — Food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters across Oklahoma are scrambling to meet demand for food from, among other groups, kids left in the lurch because they can’t get the free and discounted meals offered when schools are in ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Rogers County clerk sues paper over stories

    CLAREMORE — The Rogers County clerk has sued the Claremore Daily Progress and its government reporter over claims the newspaper painted her in a false light and invaded her privacy. Clerk Robin Anderson filed a lawsuit Thursday against ...

    July 26, 2014