A new drug used in a three-drug lethal injection execution combination proved to be an issue. After the administration of the first injection, Clayton Lockett was declared unconscious. Within three minutes after being declared unconscious, the inmate began to writhe around and breathe heavily. Apparently the condemned man began to strain to lift his head from the pillow and began speaking. The series of three injections was botched during this Oklahoma execution and because of that, a stay, or halt, was called on the next one scheduled for the same day.
According to reports all three injections were administered but the inmate’s vein collapsed during the procedure. This collapsed vein prevented all of the chemicals from getting into his body. After about half an hour after the beginning of the scheduled start time, the curtains were closed and the procedure was halted. The end result was still the same as the prisoner died soon after due to a heart attack.
Another execution was scheduled to next begin at 9 p.m. ET in the same Oklahoma facility but a halt was called on that one due to the botched nature of the first. A fourteen day stay was awarded to the next inmate, Charles Warner, who was also scheduled to die Tuesday. Governor Mary Fallin not only issued the postponement of the next punishment but has also called for a full review of the state’s execution procedures. She has ordered the Department of Corrections to determine why the procedure was faulty and how it happened.
The inmate, Clayton Lockett, was 38 years old. He was a four time felon and had been convicted of murdering Stephanie Neiman. Neiman, a nineteen year-old, arrived home with a friend while Lockett and some accomplices were robbing the house. She was shot with a sawed-off shotgun. Lockett was convicted not only off shooting the teenager but also of watching as his two accomplices proceeded to bury her alive. This occurred in 1999.
The next inmate on the death schedule was Charles Warner. Warner was supposed to be executed two hours after Lockett on the same prison gurney and in the same room. However, he now has a two week stay of execution while investigations are made. Warner was scheduled for the death penalty after being convicted of raping and killing the eleven month old daughter of his roommate in 1997. He continues to maintain his innocence.
Both inmates have sued Oklahoma as the state refused to disclose details of the drugs to be used or where they had been obtained. Because of this lawsuit and other issues, there has been a lot of controversy leading up to this series of injections and the drugs that were to be administered. One attorney even went so far as to deem the combination of drugs and the proposed method of capital punishment experimental. The apparent failure of this procedure will most likely only serve as fuel for additional debates regarding the administration of lethal injections. The requirements of the U.S. Constitution state that the death penalty can neither be cruel nor unusual. The usage of the new drugs is in part because many drug makers will no longer sell their chemicals to corrections departments or prisons because they are opposed to capital punishment. In this case, Oklahoma began using a new series of three drugs was which seems to have resulted in a botched execution and has halted the next one on the schedule. The investigation as to why the inmate’s vein collapsed will continue. In the meantime, the next convicted killer will have a two week postponement.
By Dee Mueller
on twitter @TuesdayDG