BOTCHED EXECUTION: Okla. failure reignites capital punishment de - KMSP-TV

BOTCHED EXECUTION: Okla. failure reignites capital punishment debate

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A botched execution in Oklahoma has renewed the debate over the death penalty nationwide -- including in Minnesota, which had its own failure in 1906 before abolishing capital punishment.

William Williams was sentenced to death by hanging for a double murder, but the rope was too long. Deputies literally pulled the rope upward to kill him, but that incident led to years of debate and ultimately resulted in Minnesota opting against the death penalty in 1911.

More than 100 years later, it took 43 minutes for convicted killer Clayton Lockett to die in Oklahoma's execution room.

"Unfortunately, because I've studied what happens when we try to kill people, the botched executions over and over again -- I was saddened but not surprised," Mark Osler, of the University of St. Thomas school of law, told Fox 9 News.

Lockett was strapped to a gurney with a blown vein, and the lethal drugs didn't make it into his system. There were convulsions, and at one point, Lockett said, "Something's wrong."

"He was able to scream out and let us know that he was alive," Ladonna Hollins, Lockett's stepmother, said.

Osler is an outspoken opponent of the death penalty, but Jim Stuedemann argues: What about the victim's family? He contends the focus should be on the teen that Lockett shot and buried alive, 19-year-old Stephanie Nieman.

Stuedemann's own teenage daughter, 18-year-old Jolene Stuedemann, was sexually assaulted, stabbed 30 times and killed in July of 200 at the family's Woodbury home. Her killer, 17-year-old Roman Nose, was sentenced to life in prison, but Stuedemann believes every state should adopt the death penalty. He also told Fox 9 News that although he has "no problem" with Nose spending the rest of his life in a cell, he would rather see him dead.

"What he did to my daughter is unconscionable," he said. "They don't deserve to live, I don't think. I don't think we should have to take care of them."

Yet, although Osler said faith is the primary reason he is against capital punishment, he also cites the cost of death penalty policies -- including the possibility of killing an innocent man and not knowing whether the drugs used today are working properly.

"Because the person can't cry out and move, there's no way to know that the barbiturate has worked," Osler said. "We may just be inducing heart attack without addressing that, which would be torture in most people's mind."

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