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April 29, 2014

First of two planned Oklahoma executions botched, though condemned dies of heart attack after getting execution drugs

As reported in this CNN article, an "Oklahoma inmate died Tuesday evening of an apparent heart attack after authorities botched the delivery of drugs and stopped his execution.  Another execution scheduled for the same day was postponed."  Yikes.  Here are the details:

Convicted murderer Clayton Lockett was sedated and then given the second and third drugs in the protocol, Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton told reporters.  "There was some concern at that time that the drugs were not having the effect, so the doctor observed the line and determined that the line had blown," he said.  When asked what he meant by "blown," Patton said that Lockett's vein had "exploded."

"I notified the attorney general's office, the governor's office of my intent to stop the execution and requested a stay for 14 days for the second execution scheduled this afternoon," said Patton, referring to the execution of Charles Warner.

Lockett later suffered what appeared to be a heart attack and died, the director said. Gov. Mary Fallin issued an executive order granting a stay for Warner and ordered an investigation.  Lockett remained unconscious after the drugs were administered and died in the execution chamber at 7:06 p.m., according to her office.

"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," Fallin said in a statement.  "I have issued an executive order delaying the execution of Charles Frederick Warner for 14 days to allow for that review to be completed."...

"Something went horribly awry," Warner's attorney told CNN late Tuesday.  "Oklahoma cannot carry out further executions until there's transparency in this process," said Madeline Cohen.

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UPDATE:  As he does so well, Howard Bashman in posts at How Appealing here and here effectively collects lots of press reports on Oklahoma's execution struggles, which seems sure to be the biggest US death penalty story over the next few days and weeks (and months and years, perhaps).

April 29, 2014 at 10:24 PM | Permalink


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"Something went horribly awry," Warner's attorney told CNN late Tuesday. "Oklahoma cannot carry out further executions until there's transparency in this process," said Madeline Cohen.

Says who?

This looks like a problem with the veins. Gee, that's never happened before outside of the LI context.

What's really upsetting is that justice was not carried out for an 11 month old girl.

Bottom line--when you bury a 19 year old young woman alive, you run the risk of your own vein "exploding" and the pain the results therefrom.

I would have ordered the second execution to be conducted.

Posted by: federalist | Apr 29, 2014 10:31:21 PM

Amen Federalist. Not to mention the ONLY reason the Oklahoma Corrections people are even IN this position is that these people have been playing dirty--going after the market interests of the drug manufacturers. These two public defenders are screaming about a situation that THEIR friends created.

The Roberts Court has to step in and loosen up dramatically on what it means to administer "cruel and unusual punishment". Do we really need anesthesiologists hovering over these guys? Use the guillotine and just get these things over with at WAY less expense to the public. And, for that matter, stop browbeating in Federal court hardworking prison guys who are just trying to clean up scum. Can't we just streamline death cases and get them over with already so that finally there's some actual justice? Show some guts already.

Posted by: J.J. | Apr 29, 2014 10:53:33 PM

JJ, sarcasm isn't your strong suit.

Posted by: federalist | Apr 29, 2014 11:09:43 PM

Vein did not "explode." The needle pierced the other side of the vein. The fluid thus entered the surrounding tissue. That is the meaning of blowing a vein. The drug was picked up more slowly from surrounding tissue, rather going to the brain and heart directly i a minute. The execution drugs were absorbed more slowly, but eventually worked well.

From Yahoo:

swomedicineman answered 8 years ago

When starting an IV or drawing blood, blowing a vein means the blood leaks into the surrounding tissue making a bruise. Usually when this happens another vein must be used to prevent running the dye or fluid into the surrounding tissue as well (hematoma, elaborate word for a bruise.) Veins can also collapse due to the stress of the IV start. Either way another vein must be used.

Asker's rating & comment
5 out of 5
Thank you for you time Scott O, This answer sounds most reasonable and informative.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Apr 30, 2014 12:20:01 AM

The scandal of this incident should give pause to all those who advocate for the death penalty on the common grounds of "an eye for an eye" and "just punishment". Such arguments are emotional responses to tragedy and have little or nothing to do with the term "punishment". The essence of the meaning of punishment is that the receipient will both know the distain of society for his actions AND be able to respond to that practical expression with some form of remorse and rehabilitation. Even in those extreme cases where the latter is not possible (because of a mental condition) or even more rare, is resisted or rejected, world examples of penal treatments demonstrate that the state today is able to humanely manage very effectively those instances. The facts of Oklahoma's botched execution are not used as an excuse for abolitionists to point this out, for the facts speak for themselves - executions, whether botched or efficiently carried out, represent a behaviour that is profoundly inhuman. If that were not self-evident enough, reading the calous words of many of the most vociferous pro-dp advocates on the pages of this blog and elsewhere, expose the background of emotion and motivation of them. A close analysis of this would suggest they share the mental abboration that must inherently be present in those persons who commit murder, in the moment of that act. They are blinded to the enormity of the attrocity and to the consequences to their victim, to themselves and to everyone else associated to both. The law exists (put very simply) to both manage the processes by which we all, as individuals, are able to relate peacefully, rationally and fairly with each other in society, for the common good, and to ensure that a system and rationale exists to effectively but humanely manage the punishment of those who fail to adhere to the high expectations of society for compliance. Executions, by whatever method and by whatever degree of efficiency, are manifestly acts of unworthy "cruel and unusual punishment", and no amount of scrabbling to otherwise justify them from the words of the US Constitution or from the mouths of Supreme Court Justices or their would-be political equivalents, change that. The obscene incident of this latest botched execution merely brings home and emphasizes that message. Whatever the reality of the crime committed by Clayton Lockett, he is in our image, a fellow human being. RIP.

Posted by: peter | Apr 30, 2014 3:33:45 AM

Explain to me again why we're still dicking around with ad hoc lethal injection protocols, and not just going to the firing squad?

Posted by: Res ipsa | Apr 30, 2014 9:43:36 AM

I think people [these are people who think the death penalty is acceptable] find firing squads distasteful and lethal injection seems to many a more humane "medical" version of execution that doesn't include what people see as toss backs to past ages of people shooting people dead. It also adds another level of distance from those doing the execution. Finally, bringing a new means of execution after years of precedent is a complicated affair.

Firing squads were not used in most places even before lethal injection began to be the chosen usage in the 1970s/1980s. The original favored choice was hanging, which would provide you with one executioner though the firing squad was used in certain contexts (the military / Mormons for religious reasons).

Lethal injection critics have noted its 'value' over other means -- again if we accept the death penalty -- leaves something to be desired. But, there are reasons why it is chosen. One means a few bring up as a solution is asphyxiant gas (over the current type used) though "gas" has a negative connotation generally. Also, I simply don't know, there might be other reasons why that sort of gas was not used when gas chambers were still used for executions.

Posted by: Joe | Apr 30, 2014 11:26:05 AM

Peter: The odds are 10:1, your death will be 100 times more painful, prolonged, humiliating, filled with indescribable agonies, desperation. The odds are 100% that the victim of your boy suffered far more than he did. Not a word about the victim from the supercilious abolitionist side. These hypocrites are morally reprehensible.

The lawyer is not even protecting this vicious predator out of any kind of humanity. The lawyer is generating massive appellate fees, with that Mafia racket going in the $billions. The ACLU is the spearhead of lawyer rent seeking.

I would strongly support water boarding these vicious predators full time waiting for their date, to solve all their cases, the dozens each has slaughtered.

Victim family members may keep pro-criminal judge and legislators at bay via the lash. As these lawyers show no mercy toward victims, so no mercy should be shown them.

One has to wonder if you or a close loved one works in government. All abolitionist arguments are in bad faith, and hide thinly veiled plunder of the taxpayer.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 2, 2014 12:29:36 AM

"A close analysis of this would suggest they share the mental abboration
that must inherently be present in those persons who commit murder, in the moment of that act."
---- 'Out of the mouths of moral apes' ----

Peter has provided tragic, banal, foul yet frank
moral RELATIVISM writ large.
I am tempted to suggest that rather than a mere chump,
Peter "share(s) the mental abboration [sic]" of those
whom he labours to protect.

However, Peter, whilst still you live I shall
instead ask you to reconsider your twisted
fantasy. We are no more daemons than are you.

Avoid Obama doctrine and teaching, e.g.
“We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends…”

Posted by: Adamakis | May 2, 2014 9:13:30 PM

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