Clayton Lockett execution: 'I don't care if they're fed to the lions'

Inmate's agony having little effect on support for the death penalty in the US

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The Independent US

The botched execution described as “torture” by one lawyer seems to have had little effect on attitudes to the death penalty in Oklahoma.

One politician questioned about the ethics of the death penalty said he did not care if murderers were killed by firing squad or "being fed to the lions".

Clayton Lockett, a convicted murderer, took more than 48 minutes to die after a new drug cocktail was administered as a lethal injection last week.

The 38-year-old reportedly writhed, gasped and cried out “oh man” during the ordeal, despite having been declared unconscious by a doctor.

His agony shone a light on executions in the US, where injection is the preferred method in the 32 states where the death penalty is legal.

Mike Christian, a Republican member of the House of Representatives for Oklahoma, had tried to stop a delay awarded to Lockett and condemned murderer Charles Warner in a dispute over the chemicals used.

“I realise this may sound harsh,” Christian said, “but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions.”

Lockett had been condemned for shooting a 19-year-old girl and watching as two accomplices buried her alive.

Mary Fallin, the Governor of Oklahoma, ordered an investigation into the procedure and delayed the execution of Warner, who was due to die on the same night.

But she too reaffirmed her support for capital punishment.

Surveys show that support for the death penalty is undeterred in the states that perform the greatest number of executions — Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, Missouri, Alabama, Georgia and Ohio.

Five others have abolished the death penalty in the last seven years, according to the Death Penalty Information Centre, which opposes capital punishment.

More than 140 former death row inmates in the US have been exonerated and campaigners argue many more could be innocent.

Additional reporting by AP

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