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Local opinion columnists

Spare the outrage over ‘botched’ execution

By From page A11 | May 02, 2014

Story of the week? I had the comments of Donald Sterling about black fans for his Los Angeles Clippers team on my scratch pad, but then I started to read about the “botched” execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma.

The more I read, or heard, or saw on television, the angrier I got. First, there was anger and revulsion when I read about the crime for which Lockett was being executed.

Lockett had been convicted of shooting a 19-year-old woman and having her buried alive when his weapon didn’t do its intended job. Had Lockett’s execution gone routinely, another convicted murderer, Charles Warner, was to be executed two hours later. Warner’s execution was stayed in order to check out the problem that caused the 43-minute delay in Lockett’s ultimate punishment.

It’s a shame Warner couldn’t be dispatched in as agonizing way as Lockett. That sounds cruel and sadistic of me, but let me quote the brief description in The New York Times, explaining why Warner was “waiting in line,” so to speak: “Mr. Warner (I had thought the Times had dropped the “Mr.” once the subject had been found guilty), was condemned for the rape and murder of an 11-month-old girl in 1997 . . .”.

Yes, you read that right: “. . . rape and murder of an 11-month-old girl . . .”

Let me stop here and tell a brief story. I was sitting at the coffee shop with two friends and the subject of sexual perversions came up. I told them, that in my mind, the ultimate sex crime might be that committed by men on infant girls. My friends seemed shocked and maybe a little dubious that such people walked the face of the Earth. No, there are – who knows? – maybe hundreds of them in California alone and they have a kind of online “club” where they exchange stories and photos, which they would now call “selfies.”

No, most of these men are probably not murderers – I have no idea – but I understand that their “partners” are often their own infants.

Should it be any surprise that the Lockett execution story was dominated by the failure of the drug “cocktail” to work quickly? In several cases you had to read almost to the end to see a description of Lockett’s – and Warner’s – crime.

The San Francisco Chronicle had a front-page article with the headline, “Calamity in Oklahoma resonates in California,” followed by, “But the agony of a dying murderer . . .”

However these men die, their pain can’t compare to that of the victims and their loved ones.

Bud Stevenson, a retired stockbroker, lives in Fairfield. Reach him at [email protected]

Bud Stevenson

Bud Stevenson


Discussion | 19 comments

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  • BaseballmomMay 02, 2014 - 6:19 am

    Thank you Bud. Nothing more to say but THANK YOU!

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  • PornacMay 02, 2014 - 7:04 am

    I thought cruel punishment by the Feds was unconstitutional. Maybe the executioner should be jailed for this.

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  • PornacMay 02, 2014 - 7:05 am

    Babies are nice.

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  • CD BrooksMay 02, 2014 - 7:11 am

    YES SIR! Could not agree more.

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  • Rich GiddensMay 02, 2014 - 9:01 am

    I'm no sadist but I have no sympathy for the ''victim'' of the botched execution. I bet the other no-gooders they were going to croak is now terrified. Good. I believe they should conduct more ''botched executions''---the more ''botched'' the better. Like that horrible scene in ''The Green Mile'' movie where the sadistic guard delibertly failed to dampen the contact sponge prolonging the agony of the condemned man in a Louisiana Electric Chair. He screamed for 5 minutes and finally his head caught on fire as the spectators fled in terror. LOL!

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  • T. DonaldsonMay 02, 2014 - 12:53 pm

    Well said. Every article relating to this should have led with a description of the crime this man committed! Maybe after reading about what he did to an innocent 19 year old girl people would not be so outraged over his execution.

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  • Puddin TaneMay 02, 2014 - 1:46 pm

    I find it amazing that so many people who claim to love the Constitution, especially the conservatives who are constantly bemoaning that the 2nd Amendment is being attacked, are so willing to throw out the 8th Amendment at the earliest convenience. Don't get me wrong, these "men" were monsters, but they were still entitled to the protections against cruel and unusual punishment under the Bill of Rights. If you say you are for a "return to the Constitution," then it should be for all if it, not just what you pick and choose.

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  • Puddin TaneMay 02, 2014 - 1:52 pm

    "All of it"*. Gotta love touch screens

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  • 2dAmendment Is Still the LawMay 02, 2014 - 2:38 pm

    Dear Puddin Tain: Please name the "...conservatives who are constantly bemoaning that the 2nd Amendment is being attacked, are so willing to throw out the 8th Amendment." Will you cite references to such statements by supporters of the 2d Amendment? In this case you are creating a false situation so that you can slam 2d Amendment supporters. Please limit your broad brush indictments to things you can prove

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  • Puddin TaneMay 02, 2014 - 3:49 pm

    Fair enough, I shouldn't paint with a broad brush: I'll start with Bud Stevenson, who has written in opposition to 2nd Amendment restrictions via gun control in the past. As the DR is loathe to post links, I'd suggest going through his previous columns. My point is that constitutionalists like Bud are being selective with which amendments from the Bill of Rights they support, which comes off as hypocritical and calls their commitment to upholding the Constitution into question. This goes both ways too - some on the left who want Gitmo to be shut down for 8th Amendment violations, such as CD, are being selective in how the 8th Amendment should be applied. Does this seem like a fair assessment?

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  • CD BrooksMay 02, 2014 - 4:10 pm

    Puddin Tane, how do I fit in here?

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  • Puddin TaneMay 02, 2014 - 4:35 pm

    CD - mostly as an example of someone who is fairly liberal and/or progressive who expressed support for the two convicts suffering through their execution, which is a violation of the 8th Amendment. It was intended to prove that my critique is not solely aimed at conservatives. Or did I misinterpret your "YES SIR!! Could not agree more" comment?

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  • CD BrooksMay 02, 2014 - 4:45 pm

    PuddinTane, no you did not misunderstand and I stand by it. I’m always going to take what is considered cruel and unusual punishment as that which the victim suffered in these heinous cases. There should be no law or amendment that might protect such evil doers for their acts. There is hypocrisy and then there is doing what is right or serving justice. This guy didn’t get the treatment he deserved but I’ll take it.

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  • Puddin TaneMay 02, 2014 - 4:59 pm

    Good, I would hate to use a misinterpretation as part of my position. You're free to hold your views re: the administration of justice over upholding the 8th Amendment, just as I am free to disagree with you. At the moment, the law supports my position, but who knows if that will change after this.

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  • CD BrooksMay 02, 2014 - 5:06 pm

    Puddin Tane, it does and in cases like the ones we're speaking to, it should not. My resolve for what I believe should happen to these freak show idi*ts cannot be printed here. Just sayin...have a nice evening.

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  • 2dAmendment Is Still the LawMay 02, 2014 - 7:36 pm

    Has Bud proposed or advocated infringing upon the 8th Amendment? Or any other right enumerated in the Constitution or Bill of Rights? I don't remember so.

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  • Puddin TaneMay 02, 2014 - 10:43 pm

    You must be joking or illiterate. Did you not read any of the above column? Advocating for a painful death for an inmate, no matter what crime they committed, is a clear violation of the 8th Amendment because it is the very definition of "cruel and unusual punishment."

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  • Interested ReaderMay 02, 2014 - 4:36 pm

    FINALLY, after all these years, Bud says something with which I agree wholeheartedly: "That sounds cruel and sadistic of me". - Sadist - a person who enjoys being cruel. Your giddiness at the horrifying nature of Lockett's death, and disappointment that Warner was temporarily spared, does nothing to erase the brutal nature of their crimes. The only purpose served by your sadism is the enjoyment you get from being cruel.

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  • BillGMay 03, 2014 - 4:46 pm

    Don't forget that when Stephanie Nieman and her friend came upon Lockettt. he and his friends were beating a man in front of his 9-month old son during the course of a robbery. Before Lockett shot Nieman, they raped her friend and after shooting Nieman, they buried her alive. This is from an Associated Press story. Yes, the Oklahoma execution was "botched" but only by an extreme definition of "cruel and unusual." There have been challenges by those who oppose the death penalty that even a needle stick is "cruel and unusual." Having had numerous blood tests, several operations, and having had donated dozens of gallons of blood over the years, needle sticks are neither cruel or unusual. I expect the anti-death penalty proponents to approach the United Nations and define needle sticks as torture. The sad thing to me, however, is that lots of people who are wringing their hands now know the name of Clayton Lockett but very few know the name of Stephanie Nieman. That is simply wrong.

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