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Stephanie Neiman was proud of her shiny new Chevy truck with the Tasmanian Devil sticker on it and a matching "Tazz" license plate.

Her parents had taught the teenager to stand up for "what was her right and for what she believed in."

Neiman was dropping off a friend at a Perry residence on June 3, 1999, the same evening Clayton Lockett and two accomplices decided to pull a home invasion robbery there. Neiman fought Lockett when he tried to take the keys to her truck.

The men beat her and used duct tape to bind her hands and cover her mouth. Even after being kidnapped and driven to a dusty country road, Neiman didn't back down when Lockett asked if she planned to contact police.

The men had also beaten and kidnapped Neiman's friend along with Bobby Bornt, who lived in the residence, and Bornt's 9-month-old baby.

"Right is right and wrong is wrong. Maybe that's what Clayton was so scared of, because Stephanie did stand up for her rights," her parents later wrote to jurors in an impact statement. "She did not blink an eye at him. We raised her to work hard for what she got."

Steve and Susie Neiman asked jurors to give Lockett the death penalty for taking the life of their only child, who had graduated from Perry High School two weeks before her death.

Lockett later told police "he decided to kill Stephanie because she would not agree to keep quiet," court records state.

Neiman was forced to watch as Lockett's accomplice, Shawn Mathis, spent 20 minutes digging a shallow grave in a ditch beside the road. Her friends saw Neiman standing in the ditch and heard a single shot.

Lockett returned to the truck because the gun had jammed. He later said he could hear Neiman pleading, "Oh God, please, please" as he fixed the shotgun.

The men could be heard "laughing about how tough Stephanie was" before Lockett shot Neiman a second time.

"He ordered Mathis to bury her, despite the fact that Mathis informed him Stephanie was still alive."



Bornt and Neiman's friend "were threatened that if they told anybody about these events, they too would be murdered," court records state.

"Every day we are left with horrific images of what the last hours of Stephanie's life was like," her parents' impact statement says.

"We were left with an empty home full of memories and the deafening silence of the lack of life within its walls. ... We feel that the only thing left to do is let Clayton Lockett serve out the sentence of death that a jury sentenced him to. Anything less is a travesty of justice."

Bornt wrote a letter Feb. 7 stating: "Clayton being put to death by lethal injection is almost too easy of a way to die after what he did to us. ... He will just be strapped to the table and will go to sleep and his heart will stop beating."

'A base instinct'

Madeline Cohen, an assistant federal public defender who has represented another inmate involved in the case, said she can understand why some people say defendants in murder cases should endure a painful death.

"Why should we give them a humane death when they didn't give their victim a humane death? I think that's a base instinct, but that is not what the Constitution provides. ... When we allow our government to take illegal and unconstitutional actions in our name, then all of our rights are jeopardized," she said.

Cohen has represented Charles Warner, scheduled to die April 29 for the rape and murder of his girlfriend's 11-month-old daughter, Adriana Waller, in 1997.

Attorneys representing Lockett and Warner have fought a legal battle on multiple fronts against the state's execution-secrecy law.

Defense attorneys argue the state should have to reveal the sources of its drugs and other details to ensure the inmates aren't subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.

"States have turned to secrecy in the face of drug shortages. It's a reaction to this combination of poorly experimental execution procedures and some frighteningly botched executions," Cohen said.

An Oklahoma County District Court judge ruled the state law allowing Oklahoma to withhold most information about execution drugs and procedures violates the state Constitution.

The state has appealed that ruling to the state Supreme Court, but Lockett and Warner may be executed before the appeal is considered.

The state Court of Criminal Appeals has refused to grant a stay, saying it can only consider such requests from inmates challenging their convictions before the court.

Attorney General Scott Pruitt's office said in an email the state will fight to defend the secrecy law because pharmacies must be protected from "threats of violence and political pressure."

In a letter to defense attorneys April 1, the state announced it planned to use a new combination of drugs to execute the men: midazolam, pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride.

Defense attorneys cite several cases in which inmates apparently experienced slow or painful deaths during executions.

"This drug regimen has never before been used to execute a prisoner, not only in Oklahoma, but anywhere in the United States," defense attorneys state in their request for a stay.

Cohen said protecting pharmacies should not be a reason for the state to "hide information" about the execution process.

"As far as the anti-death penalty activists, those people are trying to stop violence and killing," he said.

"They are mostly people of faith and conviction. The idea that they would threaten a pharmacist is hard to believe."

LaDonna Hollins, Lockett's stepmother, told an Oklahoma City television station last month her son deserved to be executed for his crimes but should not be made to suffer.

"I want to know what mixture of drugs are you going to use now. Is this instant? Is this going to cause horrible pain?" Hollins said.

"I know he's scared. He said he's not scared of the dying as much as the drugs administered."

Hollins told friends and relatives in a recent Facebook post: "The death penalty is to kill a man for his injustice ... by lethal injection not lethal suffocation."


Ziva Branstetter 918-581-8306


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