Although much of the coverage of these cases revolves around the new drugs — and the old procedures — being used to carry out the death penalty, here’s a look back to the crimes and trials that left Lockett and Warner on death row in the first place.
Almost 15 years ago, on June 3, 1999, Clayton Lockett, 23, Shawn Mathis, 26, and Alfonzo LaRon Veasey Lockett, 17, planned on robbing Bobby Lee Bornt, 23, at his house in Perry, Okla.
They tied up Bornt and beat him. Bornt’s nine-month-old son was present.
Stephanie Neiman, 18, was dropping off her friend Summer Bradshaw at that house, and Lockett and his accomplices tried to take the keys to her new Chevy truck. Neiman, who graduated from high school only two weeks earlier, fought back, and the men covered her mouth with duct tape and beat her. They also covered her 18-year-old friend’s mouth with duct tape, and beat and sexually assaulted her. Both were abducted, along with Bornt and his son. Lockett and his accomplices drove the four people they kidnapped west of Ponca City. Lockett asked Neiman if she planned to call the police. She would not say no, and Mathis spent 20 minutes digging a grave over which Lockett shot Neiman twice with a sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun, the three other victims later told authorities.
Lockett said he wasn’t going to kill the rest “because they had kids.” He took them home, and Bornt reported the crime to the police the following morning. Authorities found Neiman’s stolen Chevy and arrested the three suspects 12 hours after Neiman was killed. Neither of the women had known the suspects.
George Lockett, Sr. — Alfonzo Lockett’s father — told reporters in 1999 that his nephew, Clayton Lockett, had been living with his family since he was released from prison in 1998. George Lockett said that his nephew told him, “Alfonzo had no involvement in it and that he did everything.”
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, after the case was appealed for errors made in the initial trial, which the appeals court classified as “harmless errors.”
In March 2014, Clayton Lockett filed for a temporary restraining order to prevent his execution, along with Warner’s, until more information was revealed about the new drugs Oklahoma was using for executions, the ones that eventually led to his drawn-out death. An Oklahoma County District Judge denied the request. Clayton Lockett also filed for clemency with the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board in March, which would have commuted his planned execution into a life sentence. That request was also denied.
Alfonzo Lockett and Shawn Mathis are currently serving life sentences.
In 1999, Charles Warner was convicted of raping and murdering an 11-month-old child two years earlier. Adrianna Waller was the daughter of Warner’s girlfriend, who he was living with at the time. Testimony given at the trial accused Warner of previously abusing his ex-wife, and Warner’s son testified that he had seen Warner abuse Adrianna before. The Patriot News reports that “during the ultimately fatal attack she was sexually molested. She had a six-inch skull fracture, a broken jaw, three broken ribs, bruised lungs and a lacerated liver and spleen.”
He was sentenced to death by lethal injection and sentenced to 999 years in prison, after being found guilty of first-degree murder and first-degree rape. Warner won an appeal after “the appellate court said District Judge Virgil Black erred in denying defense motions to dismiss some of the potential jurors called to hear the case,” as reported by The Oklahoman. The Oklahoma County District Court heard his case again in 2003. Again, they sentenced him to death by lethal injection.
He has been given a two-week stay for his execution, which was scheduled to happen on Tuesday until Lockett’s execution went awry. His lawyers and several civil-rights groups are continuing their effort to fight executions that use the experimental drugs used by Oklahoma on Tuesday night. As Jeffrey Toobin reported in December, states have found it difficult to find drugs to use in lethal injection executions, as many of the countries in Europe that manufacture them have refused to export them for this purpose.