Court review halts Okla. executions

By Tim Talley
Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma is willing to put three executions on hold while the U.S. Supreme Court reviews whether a certain sedative can render death row inmates sufficiently unconscious, the state’s attorney general said in a Monday filing with the court.

Rather than stop the executions himself, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt took the unusual step of asking the justices for a stay. Oklahoma wants the right to resume executions if it finds a different suitable drug.

“It is important that we act in order to best serve the interests of the victims of these horrific crimes and the state’s obligation to ensure justice in each and every case,” Pruitt said in a statement. “The families of the victims in these three cases have waited a combined 48 years for the sentences of these heinous crimes to be carried out.”

The Oklahoma Constitution allows the governor to grant a 60-day reprieve. But because the case likely won’t be resolved in that time frame, Pruitt sought the stays from the U.S. Supreme Court, said his spokesman, Will Gattenby.

“Likewise, the application must be filed with the Supreme Court instead of the Oklahoma Criminal Court of Appeals because there is no pending case in the Oklahoma court,” Gattenby said.

Attorneys for three death row inmates awaiting execution urged the Supreme Court to grant stays of execution until the case is resolved.