Other Murder Victims' Families Worry Executions Will Be Delayed In Oklahoma
TULSA, Oklahoma -
Oklahoma's flawed execution of Clayton Lockett has gripped the country, stirring debates about the Eighth Amendment and state execution laws.
Lockett died of an apparent heart attack, 43 minutes after the execution began at 6:23 p.m. on Tuesday. The White House issued a statement today saying the execution protocol fell short of humane standards.
The death row prisoner's body is at the Tulsa Medical Examiner's office on Wednesday, undergoing an autopsy to provide answers into a probe of what went wrong.
The state was using a new drug combination for the first time.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma is calling for an immediate moratorium of all executions in the state.
Department of Corrections director Robert Patton stopped the execution after about 20 minutes when Lockett began writhing on the gurney.
A doctor told prison officials Lockett's vein had burst.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin stayed a second execution planned for later in the evening, and today, ordered public safety commissioner Michael Thompson to lead an independent review of Oklahoma's execution procedures.
"We expect the review process to be deliberate, to be thorough, and it will be the first step in evaluating our state's execution protocols," Fallin said.
Attorney General Scott Pruitt released a statement this afternoon, saying "Transparency and impartiality in the fact-finding will give Oklahomans confidence and lend credibility to the state's most solemn of duties: carrying out the sentence of death.
News of the flawed execution hit victim's families like a sledge hammer.
They're in a panic that executions will be stopped or delayed even longer and many of them have been waiting for years to see their loved one's killers put to death.
One woman thinks the public should focus less on what happened last night and more on the murdered and their families.
Debra Wyatt's parents were murdered by Scott Eizember in 2003.
The jury found him guilty and sentenced him to death.
When the judge read the death warrant to Eizember in court, Eizember threw back his head and laughed.
Eizember was on a mission to find his girlfriend, so he went to her mother's house in Depew to see if she was hiding there.
He decided the house across the street was his best vantage point, so he broke in and when the owners of that house, A.J. and Patsy Cantrell, came home, Eizember shot Patsy, beat A.J. to death with the shotgun and threw their bodies in the bathroom.
"He didn't care that he could still hear my dad breathing," Wyatt said. "He put my mom on top of my dad because he knew she was dead."
Eizember also shot his girlfriend's teenage son, beat her mother and kidnapped an Arkansas couple.
Wyatt said there never will be closure, but she believes the only just ending to the painful journey is for Eizember to be put to death. Only now, she's afraid all the recent arguments about death penalty drugs and Tuesday night's controversial execution is going stop or delay that process.
"Not only is it making me upset, I cried most of the night," she said. "It makes me angry because I don't think we, as victim's families, should have to be put through this over and over and over again."
She said it already takes too long to carry out the death penalty and the appeals process is too painful for victims' family members. Now, she says, all the focus is on the killers and what they're going through and she believes that's deeply misplaced.
Reporter: "Don't you just feel beat down by this whole process?"
Wyatt: "Totally beaten down. Sometimes I feel like just giving up, like it's not worth it. But I have vowed to be the voice for my mom and dad until justice is served, until he gets executed."
Wyatt does want to meet with Eizember before his execution, and he has agreed to do so after his appeals are over, which should be sometime next year.
News On 6 has talked to other families who are also waiting on their loved one's killer to be executed.
They also said they believe the focus should not be on whether the killer suffers while being put to death, but how the victim and their families have suffered. They are also worried executions will be delayed or stopped altogether in Oklahoma.