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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Clayton Lockett: When the Death Penalty is Not Enough

     On June 3, 1999, in Perry, Oklahoma, 23-year-old Clayton Lockett, a violent criminal, accompanied by a pair of crime associates, invaded a home and severely beat the occupant. While Lockett was assaulting 23-year-old Bobby Lee Bornt over a debt, a girl just out of high school knocked on Bornt's front door. Lockett appeared in the doorway and pulled  the girl into the house.

     After hitting the stunned visitor in the face with a shotgun, Lockett put the gun to her head and ordered her to invite her 18-year-old friend, Stephanie Neiman, into the duplex. Neiman had graduated from Perry High School less than a month earlier. She had been a good student, and played in the band.

     The nightmare for these girls began with Lockett and his accomplices raping Nieman's friend and beating her with the shotgun. After the rape and beatings, Lockett bound the girls with duct tape and drove them and Bornt, in Neiman's pickup truck, to a remote area a few miles away. En route, he informed his captives that he planned to kill all three of them and bury their bodies in the woods. The terrified girls begged for their lives.

     At the designated spot, Lockett made the rape victim dig a grave. When the hole was big enough, Lockett told Neiman to get into the grave. He pointed his shotgun at her and pulled the trigger. The weapon jammed. Lockett walked away, cleared the gun, and returned to the site where he shot and wounded Neiman. He forced the other girl to bury Stephanie Neiman alive. The 18-year-old was murdered because she had refused to promise Lockett that she wouldn't report the rape and kidnapping to the police.

     Lockett and his degenerate friends drove the rape victim and Bornt back to the duplex. Lockett threatened to kill his traumatized victims if they went to the police.

     As it turned out, one of the accomplices notified the authorities in the hopes of saving his own neck. A local prosecutor charged Clayton Lockett with first-degree murder, rape, robbery, kidnapping, assault and battery, and burglary. Upon his arrest, the cold-blooded rapist and sadistic killer confessed to shooting the girl and having her buried alive.

     In 2000, a jury found Lockett guilty as charged, and sentenced him to death. He ended up on death row at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.

     After fourteen years of legal appeals, and a last minute stay, Governor Mary Fallin ordered Lockett's execution to take place on April 29, 2014. That evening, an hour before his scheduled death, Lockett fought with prison officers and had to be tasered before being strapped onto the gurney. The executioner, after struggling to find a vein, administered the three-drug cocktail--midazalam to render Lockett unconscious, vecuronium to stop his breathing, and potassium chloride--to stop his heart.

     Seven minutes after the drugs were put into Lockett's body, he was still conscious. Ten minutes later, after being declared dead, the condemned man moved his head and tried to climb off the gurney. He was also heard muttering the word, "man." At this point, a corrections official lowered the blind to spare witnesses the sight of a slower than planned execution.

     Forty-three minutes after the executioner injected Lockett with the three drugs, he died of a heart attack. The potassium chloride had done its job, albeit a bit slowly.

     As could be expected, death house lawyers, anti-capital punishment activists, and hand-wringing media types agonized over Lockett's imperfect execution. These death row sob-sisters characterized his death as torture, an ordeal, and a nightmare, and called for the abolishment of the death penalty.

     Where were these outrage mongers when Lockett shot Stephanie Neiman and buried her alive? In this case, who in their right mind would shed a tear for such a cruel, cold-blooded killer? So what if Mr. Lockett didn't pass gently and quickly into the night? A lot of people die slow, agonizing deaths, citizens who never committed rape or murder. Clayton Lockett is gone, and the world is a better place without him. His memory will be kept alive, however, by those who will use his "botched" execution to advance their cause. For the rest of us, that's cruel and unusual punishment.

     Since 1976, not counting Clayton Lockett, 1,203 inmates have been executed by lethal injection in the United States. Over the years, state corrections officials have done their best to find more humane ways to put condemned criminals to death. In the 19th and 20th centuries, death row inmates were hanged, electrocuted, suffocated in gas chambers, and shot. Hanging is still an option in New Hampshire and Washington. In Arizona, Missouri, and Wyoming, the gas chamber remains a death penalty choice.

     Many correction experts believe the firing squad is the quickest and least painful way to execute a convict. In 1977, the firing squad was used to execute Gary Gilmore who asked to be so dispatched.

3 comments:

  1. The reason we allow those horrid human beings a "soft death" is because to do otherwise makes us no better than they are. I'd rather send these arseholes to their deaths humanely than crawl into the dark,fetid cesspool they inhabit.
    The death penalty is about punishment~not revenge.

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  2. There is, however, for victims and society in general, an element of revenge, or retribution, in the punishment of criminals.

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    1. From the many studies I've read it just isn't true that families of the victims find "closure" (I hate that word) or any sense of retribution or revenge from the death of the perpetrator. It has much to do with the fact that it can be decades before the sentence is carried out. Waiting for the perp's sentence to be carried out actually prolongs the pain. If the criminal is sent to prison never to walk free again without the long wait for the death penalty, the victim's family feels more of a sense that they can "get on" with their lives. Society's need for revenge doesn't enter into it. Or shouldn't. What do we benefit from hearing about a criminal's death other than a momentary thought "he got what he deserves" and then we forget it? By the time 25 or 30 years has passed families are just relieved it's over, but the idea it makes them feel some sense that they can breathe again is long, long past. In some cases the family that was harmed are dead.
      The punishment factor is most strongly felt in the immediate aftermath of the trial. But the long wait for the final punishment is just prolonging the pain.

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