Posted on | April 30, 2014 | 52 Comments
Oklahoma teenager Stephanie Neiman had just graduated from Perry High School that night in June 1999 when she and another girl went to visit their friend Bobby Boynt. Neiman, 19, was driving her blue Chevy pickup with a personalized license plate, “TAZZZ,” for the Tasmanian Devil cartoon character. Neiman and her 18-year-old friend’s trip to the Boynt residence was one of those “wrong place, wrong time” disasters. They arrived just as Boynt, the 23-year-old father of a 9-month-old infant, was being assaulted by three men:
Clayton Lockett, 23, his cousin, Alfonzo Lockett, 17 and Shawn Mathis, 26, were already there. While Boynt’s baby son slept in another room, they had tied up and were beating Boynt because he owed money to Clayton Lockett.
When Neiman’s friend went inside the home they hit her with a shotgun then forced her to call Neiman into the home.
They repeatedly raped Neiman’s 18-year-old friend, tied up the two women then used Neiman’s truck to take the adults and the baby to a rural part of Kay County. When Neiman refused to give Clayton Lockett the keys to her truck or provide him the alarm code, he ordered Stephanie to kneel while Mathis dug a grave.
Lockett shot her and the gun jammed. While Neiman lay there screaming, the attackers cleared the jam and Lockett shot her a second time. Even though she was still breathing, he ordered the other two attackers to drag her into the grave and bury her.
Kidnapping, assault, rape, murder — these brutal monsters committed multiple crimes that night. The cruel murder of Stephanie Neiman served no purpose. The killers left two witnesses alive:
They threatened to kill Bobby Boynt and Neiman’s friend if they went to police, but they did anyway. Perry police arrested the three attackers just three days later.
Alfonzo Lockett and Shawn Mathis are each serving life terms for their parts in the crime.
This brings us to Clayton Lockett:
You can read the victim statement by Stephanie’s mother, Susie Neiman, which mentions — as an incident in passing — that Stephanie was “made to do unspeakable things” by these criminals. The Washington Post says only that Stephanie was “sexually assaulted,” pointing out that Lockett already had previous felony convictions and had only been released from prison in 1998:
After the trial was completed in August 2000, the Associated Press reported that “Lockett was found guilty of conspiracy, first-degree burglary, three counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, three counts of forcible oral sodomy, four counts of first-degree rape, four counts of kidnapping and two counts of robbery by force and fear. The charges were after former convictions of two or more felonies, according to the court clerk’s office.”
Clayton Lockett was sentenced to death for first-degree murder, and more than 2,285 years in prison for his other convictions from that night. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the death sentence in April 2013 . . .
All this is necessary prelude to what happened Tuesday night:
A death row inmate spent forty minutes writhing in agony before dying of a heart attack following a new cocktail of drugs administered in a lethal injection on Tuesday night.
Oklahoma prison officials halted Clayton Lockett’s execution after the experimental drug left the man writhing and clenching his teeth on the gurney.
The 38-year-old, who was found guilty of shooting a woman and watching his friends bury her alive, was declared unconscious ten minutes after the first of the state’s new three-drug lethal injection combination was administered.
Three minutes later, though, he began breathing heavily, writhing, clenching his teeth and straining to lift his head off the pillow.
It later emerged his vein had ruptured.
The blinds were eventually lowered to prevent those in the viewing gallery from watching what was happening in the death chamber, and the state’s top prison official eventually called a halt to the proceedings.
Lockett died of a heart attack a short time later, the Department of Corrections said.
Local media present said Mr Lockett sat up and said ‘something’s wrong’ 13 minutes into the procedure.
‘It was a horrible thing to witness. This was totally botched,’ said Lockett’s attorney, David Autry.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said “we have a fundamental standard in this country that even when the death penalty is justified, it must be carried out humanely. And I think everyone would recognize that this case fell short of that standard.”
Indeed. Clayton Lockett’s execution was not “carried out humanely,” but Stephanie Neiman was kidnapped, sexually assaulted, shot twice and buried alive. And in the immortal words of Inspector Harry Callahan, “Well, I’m all broken up about that man’s rights.”