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More ammunition for opponents of death penalty
Death penalty opponents will have a field day with Tuesday's botched execution in Oklahoma.
Clayton Lockett's vein "blew out," lethal drugs weren't delivered properly, he writhed in pain, uttered "something's wrong," curtains were drawn so witnesses couldn't tell what was happening and the physician ordered a halt to the execution.
Lockett finally died of an apparent heart attack 40 minutes after the process began.
A lawyer for the next inmate in line to be executed noted the state had been blocking release of information about the chemicals to be used in the execution, and observed that Lockett had been "tortured to death."
Torture is something we all agree states should not be involved in. Only later in a Reuters news report about the execution was it noted that "Lockett, 38, was convicted of first-degree murder, rape, kidnapping and robbery for a 1999 crime spree with two co-defendants. He was found to have shot teen-ager Stephanie Nieman and buried her alive in a shallow grave where she eventually died."
Stephanie's friends and family may be forgiven for lack of sympathy for her killer.
Many states are finding it difficult to obtain the drugs used in execution by lethal injection.
A Swiss company demanded Nebraska return its latest supply after it learned it would be used for executions. The state, which bought the sodium thiopental through a middle man in Calcutta, refused, and Nebraska's supply expired while the order was still under appeal.
Death penalty opponents will use the events in Oklahoma to bolster the case for ending capital punishment, which they will say states are unable to apply competently or fairly.
Proponents will continue to argue that our legal system needs to retain the ultimate punishment for the most heinous crimes.
It's an argument that has been going on for generations, and is unlikely to be settled in the court of public opinion any time soon.
In the end, if capital punishment is ever ended, it will probably be on a technicality.