Oklahoma Execution Drugs to be Tested
Syringes of drugs readied for the second of planned back-to-back executions in Oklahoma this week will be tested as part of an investigation into the first execution, which was halted after the inmate convulsed and tried to lift his head.
Oklahoma’s attorney general’s office says said the Department of Corrections saved the lethal drugs set aside for the second execution, which was stayed for two weeks, after the execution of Clayton Lockett went awry Tuesday night.
President Barack Obama called the incident “deeply troubling” and said he’s asked his attorney general for a review of the death penalty’s application.
Lockett died 43 minutes after his execution began of an apparent heart attack as Oklahoma used a new drug combination for the first time in the state.
Officials said Friday the autopsy report on Lockett will take two to three months to complete. Department of Public Safety spokesman Capt. George Brown said the autopsy, being performed in Dallas, is expected to be finished in eight to 12 weeks. Lockett’s body arrived in Dallas about 12:30 a.m. Thursday.
Gov. Mary Fallin had called on Wednesday for an investigation of Lockett’s execution to be conducted by the state’s Department of Public Safety. She has issued a stay until May 13 for Warner’s execution, but said Thursday she was willing to issue a 60-day stay for Warner, the longest allowed under state law, if needed to complete the inquiry.
If 60 days is not adequate, Oklahoma’s attorney general has said he would request an additional stay from the courts to ensure no executions are carried out until the review is complete.
The drugs intended for Warner were never used. Assistant Attorney General Kindanne Jones said in a letter Friday that attorneys for Lockett and Warner may have access to the drugs if any are left over after the state’s analysis is complete.
Before Lockett’s execution, the state had refused to provide the source of the execution drugs, citing state law that allows such details to remain confidential.
“The Attorney General will take this step to assure that the state continues its efforts to remain as transparent as legally and practically possible, in light of the law and very real challenges Oklahoma faces in assuring that all lawful sentences, including the death penalty, are carried out,” Jones wrote.
The syringes intended for Warner’s execution Tuesday night are from the same manufacturers as the drugs used in Lockett’s execution, the state said Friday. The drugs were purchased at the same time and have the same expiration date.
Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton had detailed Lockett’s last day of life in a report issued Thursday. The report said Lockett had self-inflicted wounds on his arm, and the execution team was unable to find suitable veins in his arms, legs and neck. An IV was inserted into Lockett’s groin area and the execution began.
A spokesman for the United Nations human rights office in Geneva said Lockett’s prolonged execution could amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment under international human rights law. Rupert Colville said Lockett’s was the second problematic execution in the U.S. this year after Dennis McGuire’s death in Ohio on Jan. 16 with an allegedly untested combination of drugs.
“The apparent cruelty involved in these recent executions simply reinforces the argument that authorities across the United States should impose an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty and work for abolition of this cruel and inhuman practice,” Colville told reporters Friday.