Thursday, April 25, 2024

Botched execution in Oklahoma

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McALESTER, Oklahoma (AP) – A botched execution using a disputed new drug combination left an Oklahoma inmate writhing and clenching his teeth on the gurney today, leading prison officials to halt the proceedings before the inmate’s eventual death from a heart attack.
Clayton Lockett, 38, was declared unconscious ten minutes after the first of the state’s new three-drug combination was administered. Three minutes later, though, he began breathing heavily, writhing on the gurney, clenching his teeth and straining to lift his head off the pillow.
The blinds were eventually lowered to prevent those in the viewing gallery from watching what was happening in the death chamber, and the state’s top prison official eventually called a halt to the proceedings, although it didn’t save Lockett.
“It was a horrible thing to witness. This was totally botched,” said Lockett’s attorney, David Autry.
“They should have anticipated possible problems with an untried execution protocol. Obviously the whole thing was gummed up and botched from beginning to end. Halting the execution obviously did Lockett no good,” Autry said.
Republican Governor Mary Fallin ordered a 14-day stay of execution for another inmate who was scheduled to die two hours after Lockett, Charles Warner. She also ordered the Department of Corrections to conduct a “full review of Oklahoma’s execution procedures to determine what happened and why during this evening’s execution”.
Lockett’s botched execution is sure to fuel the debate over the death penalty in the U.S., where several states have had to scramble to find new sources of execution drugs because drugmakers that oppose capital punishment – many based in Europe – stopped selling to prisons and corrections departments.
It was the first time Oklahoma administered midazolam as the first drug in its execution drug combination, but other states have used it. Florida administers 500 milligrams of midazolam as part of its three-drug combination.
A four-time felon, Lockett, 38, was convicted of shooting 19-year-old Stephanie Neiman with a sawed-off shotgun and watching as two accomplices buried her alive in rural Kay County in 1999 after Neiman and a friend arrived at a home the men were robbing.
Warner had been scheduled to be put to death two hours later in the same room and on the same gurney. The 46-year-old was convicted of raping and killing his roommate’s 11-month-old daughter in 1997. He has maintained his innocence.
Lockett and Warner had sued the state for refusing to disclose details about the execution drugs, including where Oklahoma obtained them.
 

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