OKLAHOMA: DEATH ROW INMATE CLAYTON LOCKETT DIED AFTER WRITHING IN AGONY FOR 43 MINUTES IN BOTCHED EXECUTION THAT LAWYER DESCRIBED AS 'TORTURE'
April 30, 2014: a death row inmate in Oklahoma died of a heart attack after spending 43 minutes writhing in agony on a stretcher because of a botched execution that one lawyer has described as "torture".
Clayton Lockett, 38, who was sentenced to death for shooting a 19-year-old woman and then watching his friends bury her alive, was administered a sedative and declared unconscious by a doctor in accordance with prison execution protocol. It was the first time Oklahoma used the drug midazolam as the first element in its three drugs protocol.
Just minutes later, however, he began breathing heavily, writhing, clenching his teeth and straining to lift his head off the pillow. Lockett, who was due to be executed along with fellow inmate Charles Warner, apparently experienced a vein failure which prevented the experimental cocktail of drugs, which have never been used in Oklahoma before, from being fully effective.
The blinds were subsequently lowered to prevent those in the viewing gallery from watching what was happening in the death chamber, and the state's senior prison official eventually called a halt to the proceedings. Lockett died of a heart attack a short time later, the Department of Corrections said.
"It was a horrible thing to witness. This was totally botched," said Lockett's lawyer, David Autry, who was sceptical about claims that Lockett had suffered compromised veins. "I'm not a medical professional, but Mr Lockett was not someone who had compromised veins," he said. "He was in very good shape. He had large arms and very prominent veins."
Fellow inmate Charles Warner's execution was subsequently delayed for 14 days. His lawyer Madeline Cohen condemned the prison authorities for refusing to reveal basic information about what drugs would be used in the execution and said Mr Lockett had been "tortured to death". Warner, 46, was convicted of the 1997 rape and murder of 11-month-old Adrianna Walker, the daughter of his roommate.
Republican Governor Mary Fallin said in a statement that she had ordered the state's Department of Corrections to conduct a "full review of Oklahoma's execution procedures to determine what happened and why during this evening's execution.â
The two men had unsuccessfully challenged an Oklahoma state law that blocks officials from revealing - even in court - the identities of the companies supplying the drugs used to sedate inmates, paralyse their respiratory systems and stop their hearts. The state maintains the law is necessary to protect the suppliers from legal action and harassment. Lockett and Warner argued it was necessary for the men to learn the name of the suppliers in order to ensure the quality of the drugs that would be used to kill them and to be certain that they had been obtained legally. In March a trial court ruled in their favour, but the state's highest court reversed that decision in April, ruling that "the plaintiffs have no more right to the information they requested than if they were being executed in the electric chair.â (Sources: independent.co.uk, 30/04/2014)