Citing its “awkward position,” a divided Oklahoma Supreme Court granted a stay of execution to two death row inmates challenging the state’s execution-secrecy statute, the Tulsa World reports. In a 5-4 decision, the high court issued the stay yesterday, nearly 24 hours before death row inmate Clayton Lockett was scheduled to be executed for the 1999 shooting death of a 19-year-old woman. A second inmate, Charles Warner, was scheduled to die on April 29. He was convicted in the 1997 rape and murder of his roommate’s 11-month-old daughter.
The inmates have challenged the state’s secrecy surrounding the source of lethal injection drugs used in its execution protocol. The law allows the state to withhold information about the source of drugs used in executions and who carries them out. The inmates’ attorneys, Susanna Gattoni and Seth Day, said, “We are relieved, and extremely grateful to the Oklahoma Supreme Court for its reasonable decision to stay the scheduled executions … In order for the courts to be able to do their job of ensuring that all state and federal laws are followed, they must have complete information about the drugs intended for use in executions, including their source.”