Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson announced Wednesday he has requested a moratorium on Oklahoma executions, pending a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court regarding lethal injection, according to court records.
According to a brief filed by Edmondson, the hold comes before the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals was to schedule an execution for the 1995 murder of an Oklahoma City man by Terry Lyn Short.
"Out of an abundance of caution and notwithstanding the constitutionality of Oklahoma's lethal injection process, the state suggests an execution date not be set pending resolution "¦ and that the appropriateness of setting an execution date be revisited when "¦ (the issue) "¦ has been decided by the U.S. Supreme Court," Edmondson wrote.
In a release from his office, Edmondson stated that lethal injection was under scrutiny due to a precedent-setting case out of Kentucky, Baze vs. Rees, which is expected to establish a national standard for executions in light of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which forbids cruel and unusual punishment.
"The issue before the Supreme Court is what standard defines cruel and unusual. In Oklahoma, our standard prohibits the wanton infliction of pain. In the Kentucky case, the defendant is asking the court to set the standard at unnecessary risk of pain," Edmondson said in a release. "We have reviewed the issues in the Baze case and relevant Oklahoma law and believe our procedure will be upheld. However, we think it prudent and in the state's best interests to ask our court to delay the setting of an execution date until the Supreme Court issues its ruling."
According to Edmondson's office, Short faced death for the murder of Ken Yamamoto, 22, in Oklahoma City, and has exhausted his appeals in state. "Ben Fenwick