Botched execution renews debate over lethal injection procedure

BY Margaret Myers  April 30, 2014 at 11:17 AM EST

Defense attorneys and opponents of the death penalty have been pushing states to disclose the details of the drugs it uses to execute death row inmates.

Defense attorneys and opponents of the death penalty have been pushing states to disclose the details of the drugs it uses to execute death row inmates.


A botched execution of an Oklahoma inmate Tuesday night has renewed attention among opponents of the death penalty on the source of the drugs used to carry out the procedure.

Clayton Lockett, 38, writhed and appeared to struggle against restraints on the gurney as he was administered a drug combination that the state was using for the first time. As this was happening, an official lowered the blinds to the viewing area while Robert Patton, the state’s Department of Corrections director, halted the execution, about 20 minutes after the first drug was administered. Locket died of a heart attack shortly thereafter, according to reports.

“It was a horrible thing to witness. This was totally botched,” said Lockett’s attorney, David Autry.

As foreign supplies have dwindled — in part because European manufacturers have been banned from exporting them to states that intend to use them in executions — traditional lethal injection drugs are being replaced with others manufactured in the U.S. But inmates and lawyers are questioning whether these new drugs will result in death without undue pain and suffering.

Lockett and another inmate, Charles Warner, who was scheduled to die after him, had sued the state for not disclosing the details of the drugs that would be used in their executions.

Missouri and Texas, like Oklahoma, have both refused to reveal their sources and both of those states have carried out executions with their new supplies, according to the Associated Press.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin ordered a 14-day stay of execution for Warner, who was scheduled to die two hours after Lockett. She also ordered a “full review of Oklahoma’s execution procedures to determine what happened and why during this evening’s execution.”

Lockett was convicted of shooting 19-year-old Stephanie Neiman and watching as two accomplices buried her alive in rural Kay County in 1999.