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UPDATED: After One Botched Execution, Oklahoma Stays A Second

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Update at 8:19 p.m. ET. Execution Fails:

According to reporters tweeting from inside the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Oklahoma, the execution of Clayton D. Lockett has failed. Lockett died of a heart attack after the execution was aborted.

The execution of Charles Warner, which was supposed to take place at 9 p.m. ET., was stayed by Corrections Director Robert Patton.

According to the AP reporter on the scene, about 34 minutes after the execution was scheduled to begin, Lockett was still conscious.

"He was lifting [his] head at [7:39 p.m. ET] and he was still alive and DOC closed [the] curtain and stopped it," Cary Aspinwall tweets.

Patton told reporters that Lockett's vein failed during the execution, preventing the chemicals from entering his body. All three drugs, however, were administered.

At 8:06 p.m. ET., more than an hour after the execution was scheduled to begin, Lockett died of a massive heart attack.

In the weeks leading up to the execution, there had been much controversy over the combination of drugs the state was going to use for the execution.

Warner's attorney, Madeline Cohen, called the proposed execution method "experimental."

This botched execution follows a controversial one undertaken in Ohio in January. As we reported, when that state executed Dennis McGuire with a new cocktail of drugs, it took 24 minutes for him to die and he gasped for air and made snorting and choking sounds for at least 10 minutes.

Ohio ultimately found that McGuire did not suffer pain.

Update at 11:02 p.m. ET. Attorney Says Warner 'Tortured To Death':

Warner's attorney issued a statement calling for an investigation into the botched execution, as well as an autopsy by an independent pathologist and full disclosure on the drugs used on Warner.

"After weeks of Oklahoma refusing to disclose basic information about the drugs for tonight's lethal injection procedures, tonight, Clayton Lockett was tortured to death," Madeline Cohen said.

"Until much more is known about tonight's failed experiment of an execution, no execution can be permitted in Oklahoma," she said.

Our Original Post Continues:

A long legal and political battle in Oklahoma is scheduled to culminate this evening with a double execution.

The state is poised to execute Clayton D. Lockett, 38, and Charles F. Warner, 46, using a relatively new combination of drugs.

Over the past few months, the United States has seen a flurry of legal challenges to death sentences, because drug companies, citing political and physical threats, have stopped supplying states with traditional execution drugs.

States, in turn, have been using novel combinations for executions and have refused to reveal the names of their suppliers because they say doing so would jeopardize the relationship.

As we've reported, a lower-court judge in Oklahoma ordered the state to delay the executions because of the uncertainty surrounding the drugs. That case worked its way up the court system where there was some tension. The AP reports:

"The case, filed as a civil matter, placed Oklahoma's two highest courts at odds and prompted calls for the impeachment of state Supreme Court justices after the court last week issued a rare stay of execution. The high court later dissolved its stay and dismissed the inmates' claim that they were entitled to know the source of the drugs.

"By then, Gov. Mary Fallin had weighed into the matter by issuing a stay of execution of her own — a one-week delay in Lockett's execution that resulted in both men being scheduled to die on the same day."

Fallin supported the execution saying the men did not contest their guilt.

"Tonight, in a climate of secrecy and political posturing, Oklahoma intends to kill two death row prisoners using an experimental new drug protocol, including a paralytic, making it impossible to know whether the executions will comport with the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual suffering," Madeline Cohen, who represents Warner said in a statement. She continued:

"Because the issue of secrecy in lethal injection has not been substantively addressed by the courts, Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner will be executed without basic information about the experimental combination of drugs used in their deaths. Despite repeated requests by counsel, the state has refused, again, and again, to provide information about the source, purity, testing and efficacy of the drugs to be used. It's not even known whether the drugs were purchased legally. "

The New York Times adds:

"At 6 p.m. Mr. Lockett, who was convicted of shooting a 19-year-old woman in 1999 and having her buried alive, is due to be led from a holding room, dressed in scrubs and tennis shoes. Several relatives of the victim are scheduled to watch his execution.

"Two hours later, Mr. Warner, condemned for the rape and murder of an 11-month-old girl in 1997, is to enter the execution chamber. The mother of his victim said she opposed the death penalty and would not attend, but five members of Warner's family are expected to be there."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Source: NPR

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