Federal judge declines to unseal documents related to problematic April execution in Oklahoma

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TULSA, Oklahoma — A federal judge has ordered that documents related to the problematic execution of an Oklahoma inmate earlier this year remain sealed.

Attorneys for death row inmates had asked U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot to unseal thousands of pages of records connected to the lethal injection April 29 of Clayton Lockett, who writhed and moaned on the gurney before he was declared dead 43 minutes after his execution began.

The judge had ordered the Department of Public Safety in September to hand over the records produced during its investigation into Lockett's death, but declined Monday to unseal them, the Tulsa World (http://bit.ly/1yyRO88) reported. Among the documents are transcripts of investigators' interviews with Gov. Mary Fallin, prison officials, the execution team and media witnesses that also include a Tulsa World reporter.

Friot said the unsealing of the records "raises some serious issues and advances some arguments which may be of serious concern." But, he said, the plaintiffs' attorneys didn't make an effective argument for immediately releasing them.

The inmates' lawsuit claims that Oklahoma's execution process subjects inmates to cruel and unusual punishment and seeks a preliminary injunction.

Four of the plaintiffs are scheduled to be executed next year. Death row inmate Charles Warner's execution has been set for Jan. 15. Richard Eugene Glossip's execution is scheduled for Jan. 29; John Marion is set to die on Feb. 19; and Benjamin Robert Cole is set to die on March 5.


Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com

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