White House: Botched Oklahoma execution ‘fell short’ of humane standards


The White House said Wednesday that a botched execution that resulted in a Oklahoma prisoner suffering from severe pain before having a heart attack "fell short" of humane standards.

"We have a fundamental standard in this country that even when the death penalty is justified, it must be carried out humanely," White House press secretary Jay Carney said. "And I think everyone would recognize that this case fell short of that standard."

Clayton Lockett, 38, was convicted of shooting a 19-year-old woman in 1999 and watching as accomplices buried her alive. 

When Oklahoma officials on Tuesday night administered the first of a three-drug lethal cocktail, Lockett began writhing in pain and clenching his teeth, according to media accounts. He subsequently died from a heart attack.

Oklahoma officials halted a second planned execution, and Gov. Mary Fallin (R) ordered the state to conduct a review of execution procedures.

Carney said that generally President Obama did believe there are "some crimes that are so heinous" the death penalty should be administered. But added that "the evidence suggests the death penalty does little to deter crime."

"In this case, or these cases, the crimes are indisputably horrific and heinous," Carney said.

Carney added that he did not know if the administration would pursue a federal investigation into the botched execution.

"I'm not aware of any planned federal inquiry," he said, adding that he had not discussed the case directly with the president.