"What happened in Oklahoma is deeply troubling," he said in a joint press conference at the White House with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. "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," he added. "But I've also said that in the application of the death penalty in this country we have seen significant problems. Racial bias, uneven application of the death penalty … All of these I think do raise significant questions about how the death penalty is being applied and this situation in Oklahoma I think just highlights some of the significant problems there."
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) ordered an independent review of the state's execution procedures after the inmate, Clayton Lockett, died of a heart attack 43 minutes after his execution began. Obama said Friday that he plans to discuss the country's death penalty further with Attorney General Eric Holder.