Thirteen minutes after a doctor administered a lethal injection at
the state's death chamber in McAlester, Lockett lifted his head and
started mumbling. The doctor halted the execution, said state
corrections department spokesman Jerry Massie.
Lockett died of an apparent massive heart attack about 40 minutes
after the procedure started, he said.
"We believe that a vein was blown and the drugs weren't working as
they were designed to. The director ordered a halt to the
execution," Massie said.
The troubled execution was expected to have national implications,
with lawyers for death row inmates having argued that new lethal
injection cocktails used in Oklahoma and other states could cause
undue suffering and violate constitutional protections against cruel
and unusual punishment.
"This could be a real turning point in the whole debate as people
get disgusted by this sort of thing," said Richard Dieter, the
executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, which
monitors capital punishment.
"This might lead to a halt in executions until states can prove they
can do it without problems. Someone was killed tonight by
incompetence," Dieter said.
Witness Ziva Branstetter told broadcaster MSNBC Lockett was
thrashing about and appeared to be in pain. The state blocked off
the scene from witnesses a few minutes after the troubles started by
drawing a curtain on the execution chamber.
"His body was sort of bucking. He was clenching his jaw. Several
times he mumbled phrases that were largely unintelligible," she
The execution had been put on hold for several weeks due to a legal
fight over a new cocktail of chemicals for the lethal injection,
with lawyers arguing the state was withholding crucial information
about the drugs to be used.
"TORTURED TO DEATH"
Last week, the state Oklahoma Supreme Court lifted stays of
execution for Lockett and another inmate who was also scheduled to
be executed on Tuesday, saying the state had provided them with
enough information about the lethal injection cocktail to meet
The other inmate, Charles Warner, who was scheduled to be put to
death two hours after Lockett on Tuesday, has been granted a 14-day
stay of execution after the problems.
"I have asked the Department of Corrections to conduct a full review
of Oklahoma's execution procedures to determine what happened and
why during this evening's execution of Clayton Derrell Lockett,"
Governor Mary Fallin said.
Oklahoma had set up a new lethal injection procedure and cocktail of
chemicals earlier this year after it was no longer able to obtain
the drugs it had once used for executions.
"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," said Madeline Cohen, an
attorney for Warner.
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Oklahoma and other states have been scrambling to find new suppliers
and chemical combinations after drug makers, mostly in Europe,
imposed sales bans because they objected to having medications made
for other purposes being used in lethal injections.
death row inmates have argued that the drugs used in Oklahoma and
other states could cause unnecessarily painful deaths, which would
amount to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the U.S.
Oklahoma uses three drugs in its new lethal injection mixture, which
consists of midazolam to cause unconsciousness, vecuronium bromide
to stop respiration and potassium chloride to stop the heart, the
Department of Corrections said.
In order to obtain drugs used for execution, Oklahoma and other
states have turned to compounding pharmacies, which are lightly
regulated agencies that combine chemicals for medical purposes.
Lawyers for death row inmates have argued there may be problems with
purity and potency of the chemicals that come from these compounding
pharmacies, raising questions about whether they should be used to
prepare lethal injection drugs.
Lockett, 38, was convicted of first-degree murder, rape, kidnapping
and robbery for a 1999 crime spree with two co-defendants. He was
found to have shot teen-ager Stephanie Nieman and buried her alive
in a shallow grave where she eventually died.
Warner, 46, was convicted for the 1997 first-degree rape and murder
of 11-month-old Adrianna Waller, who was the daughter of his
then-girlfriend, Shonda Waller.
Lockett and Warner had been scheduled to be executed in March but
had their death sentences put on hold after lower courts ruled that
the state needed to provide more information about the drugs that
would be used to execute them and the supplier of the
(Additional reporting by Brendan O'Brien
in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; writing by Jon Herskovitz; editing by Ken
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