Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Oklahoma botches execution, cancels second execution planned for same day

The 20th Execution of 2014
Oklahoma was set to execute two men within two hours of each other in April, a rare occasion in the 21st century.
However, what was supposed to be the first execution was halted when the prisoner, Clayton D. Lockett, began to twitch and gasp after he had already been declared unconscious and called out “man” and “something’s wrong,” according to the New York Times.
The administering doctor intervened and discovered that “the line had blown,” said the director of corrections, Robert Patton, meaning that drugs were no longer flowing into his vein.
At 7:06 p.m., Patton said, Lockett died of a heart attack.
Patton said he had requested a stay of 14 days in the second execution scheduled for the same night, of Charles F. Warner.
It was a chaotic and disastrous step in Oklahoma’s long effort to execute the two men, overcoming their objections that the state would not disclose the source of the drugs being used in a newly tried combination. 
It did not appear that any of the drugs themselves failed, but rather the method of administration, but it resulted in what witnesses called an agonizing scene.
“This was botched, and it was difficult to watch,” said David Autry, one of Lockett’s lawyers. 
A doctor started to administer the first drug, a sedative intended to knock the man out, at 6:23. Ten minutes later, the doctor said that Lockett was unconscious, and started to administer the next two drugs, a paralytic and one intended to make the heart stop.
At that point, witnesses said, things began to go awry. Lockett’s body moved, his foot shook, and he mumbled, witnesses said. 
At 6 :37, he tried to rise and exhaled loudly. At that point, prison officials pulled a curtain in front of the witnesses and the doctor discovered a “vein failure,” Patton said.
The appeals for disclosure about the drug sources, supported by a state court in March, threw Oklahoma’s highest courts and elected officials into weeks of conflict and disarray, with courts arguing over which should consider the request for a politically unpopular stay of execution, the governor defying the State Supreme Court’s ruling for a delay, and a legislator seeking impeachment of the justices.
Officials swore that the drugs were obtained legally from licensed pharmacies, and had not expired. Gov. Mary Fallin, expressing the sentiment of many here, said: “Two men that do not contest their guilt in heinous murders will now face justice.”
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