Oklahoma prison chief calls for execution review
FILE - This file photo combo of images provided by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections shows Clayton Lockett, left, and Charles Warner. Lockett and Warner, two death row inmates whose executions were delayed while they challenged the secrecy behind the state's lethal injection protocol, are scheduled to die Tuesday, April 29, 2014, in Oklahoma's first double execution in nearly 80 years. (AP Photo/Oklahoma Department of Corrections, File)
The head of Oklahoma’s Department of Corrections told Gov. Mary Fallin yesterday that he needs more oversight of execution procedures and said it took officials 51 minutes to find a suitable vein before the botched execution earlier this week.
Clayton Lockett died of an apparent heart attack 10 minutes after prisons Director Robert Patton halted the execution. Patton said Lockett had an intravenous tap placed at his groin because suitable veins couldn’t be found elsewhere. That vein collapsed, and Patton said Lockett didn’t have another vein that was suitable – and that the state didn’t have another dose of the drugs available anyway.
The IV line was covered by a sheet because it had been placed at Lockett’s groin, Patton said in his letter to the governor. Its becoming dislodged wasn’t discovered until 21 minutes after the execution began and all of the execution drugs had been injected into the line.
“The drugs had either absorbed into tissue, leaked out or both,” Patton wrote. “The director asked the following question, ‘Have enough drugs been administered to cause death?’ The doctor responded, ‘No.’ ”
After the doctor attending the execution found a faint heartbeat, Patton ordered the execution stopped. Lockett died anyway.
Madeline Cohen, an attorney for an inmate who had been scheduled to be executed two hours after Lockett, said Oklahoma was revealing information about the events “in a chaotic manner.”
“As the Oklahoma Department of Corrections dribbles out piecemeal information about Clayton Lockett’s botched execution, they have revealed that Mr. Lockett was killed using an invasive and painful method – an IV line in his groin,” Cohen said in a statement. “Placing such a femoral IV line requires highly specialized medical training and expertise.”
The second execution set for Tuesday night, of inmate Charles Warner, was initially rescheduled for May 13. Patton yesterday called for an indefinite stay. Cohen said she agreed that an indefinite stay was necessary.
In recommendations to the governor, Patton also said it was wrong to leave “all responsibility and decision-making” to the warden of the Oklahoma State Penitentiary at McAlester, where executions are carried out.
“Those decisions should rest on upper management and ultimately on the Director of Corrections,” Patton wrote in a four-page letter detailing Lockett’s last day.