President Barack Obama is seeking a Justice Department review of the implementation of the death penalty in the United States following the botched execution of a convicted murderer in Oklahoma, which he called “deeply troubling.”
Asserting he is for the death penalty for severe crimes, Obama wants Attorney General Eric Holder to report back to him on the findings.
“This situation in Oklahoma I think just highlights some of the significant problems there, so I’ll be discussing with Eric Holder and others to give me an analysis of what steps have been taken not just in this particular instance but more broadly in this area,” Obama said Friday. “I think we have some difficult questions around these issues.”
On Tuesday, convicted murderer Clayton Lockett died of an apparent heart attack 43 minutes after an apparent problem with the lethal injection drug cocktail in Oklahoma City. Lockett was convicted of shooting 19-year-old Stephanie Neiman and watching as two of his accomplices buried her alive in 1999. Neiman and a friend had interrupted the men as they robbed a home in Perry, Oklahoma.
Obama took a question on the botched execution during a joint White House press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Friday.
“What happened in Oklahoma is deeply troubling,” the president said. “The individual who was subject to the death penalty had committed heinous crimes, terrible crimes and I’ve said in the past that there are certain circumstances in which a crime is so terrible that the application of the death penalty may be appropriate; mass killings, the killings of children.”
“I’ve also said that in the application of the death penalty in this country, we’ve seen significant problems; racial bias, an uneven application of the death penalty, situations in which there were individuals on death row who later on were discovered to have been innocent because of exculpatory evidence and all these, I think, do raise significant questions about how the death penalty is being applied,” Obama added.