Oklahoma releases prison log for botched April execution

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 28, 2014 5:20 PM

By Heide Brandes

OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - A person trained to draw blood inserted the IV for the botched execution of a convicted murderer in Oklahoma last April, a prison log released on Thursday revealed, but gave no other details of what happened when the procedure went wrong.

The Oklahoma Department of Correction log said a doctor checked twice to see if inmate Clayton Lockett was unconscious during the April 29 execution. It noted that 12 minutes after the lethal injection of chemicals was administered: "blinds lowered in chamber."

The next entry comes 24 minutes later: "Doctor pronounced offender dead."

Lockett died, apparently of a heart attack caused by the lethal injection drugs, after prison officials called a halt to the execution because of problems with the IV that prevented the drugs from being properly administered and caused chemicals to spill onto the floor of the death chamber.

Before the curtains were drawn to block the view, witnesses said Lockett appeared to be writhing on the gurney and struggling to lift his head. The execution was widely criticized as cruel and inhumane.

An independent autopsy showed that Lockett had numerous skin punctures on his extremities, indicating failed attempts to place the IV and blunt impact injuries consistent with physical restraint. The autopsy, released on Thursday, was commissioned by lawyers who represent death row prisoners.

Prompted by the botched execution, activist groups and two newspapers filed a lawsuit on Monday to try to prevent Oklahoma prison officials from blocking what can be seen by witnesses to executions.

A separate independent autopsy ordered by defense attorneys for Lockett showed the IV had been inserted incorrectly into a vein in his groin, and that the drugs likely leaked into soft tissue instead of directly into his bloodstream.

Lockett, 38, was convicted of first-degree murder, rape, kidnapping and robbery for a 1999 crime spree with two co-defendants. Teenager Stephanie Nieman was shot and buried alive in a shallow grave, where she eventually died.

(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; editing by Gunna Dickson)