OKLAHOMA EXECUTIONS

No Second Chances: What to Do After a Botched Execution


November  18, 2017

The pathos and problems of America’s death penalty were vividly on display yesterday when Ohio tried and failed to execute Alva Campbell. Immediately after its failure Gov. John Kasich set June 5, 2019, as a new execution date.

This plan for a second execution reveals a glaring inadequacy in the legal standards governing botched executions in the United States.

Campbell was tried and sentenced to die for murdering 18-year-old Charles Dials during a carjacking in 1997. After Campbell exhausted his legal appeals, he was denied clemency by the state parole board and the governor.

By the time the state got around to executing Campbell, he was far from the dangerous criminal of 20 years ago. As is the case with many of America’s death-row inmates, the passage of time had inflicted its own punishments.

The inmate Ohio strapped onto the gurney was a 69-year-old man afflicted with serious ailments, including lung cancer, COPD and respiratory failure. Campbell has had prostate cancer and a hip replacement. He needs daily oxygen treatments, uses a walker and is tethered to a colostomy bag.

Ohio officials were so aware of Campbell’s breathing problems that they provided a wedge-shaped pillow to raise his head, so he could breathe more easily as it set about to end his life.

Officials had been warned about the difficulty of finding a usable vein, and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction had problems finding Campbell’s veins during a recent exam.

Nonetheless, the state went ahead with his execution.

On Wednesday, the execution team tried four different places in Campbell’s arms and right leg to insert the needle through which to administer lethal drugs. After 30 minutesit stopped the execution and returned Campbell to death row.

Stopping an execution before it is completed is quite unusual, even if serious problems occur during the procedure. Those serious problems are not rare: Approximately 3 percent of American executions were botched during the 20th century, and 7 percent of lethal injections have been botched since its first use in 1982.

But Campbell’s was one of the very few executions to be halted since the mid-1940s.

The first of those was Louisiana’s botched electrocution of Willie Francis, in which the current of electricity was not sufficient to kill him.

The second time an execution was stopped in mid-course occurred in Ohio during the 2009 effort to put Romell Broom to death. The execution team could not find a usable vein. After two hours of repeatedly poking and stabbing Broom’s arms and legs, they gave up.

In April 2014, when Oklahoma tried to execute Clayton Lockett, officials also had problems finding a usable vein. They finally inserted the needle into a vein in his groin. When the lethal drugs were administered, Lockett struggled violently: The needle had dislodged from the vein into a muscle. Ultimately the execution was stopped before Lockett was killed. Sometime later he died of a heart attack while still strapped to the gurney.

Lockett’s death was one of the more gruesome in America’s history of botched executions, but it spared the state an ethical and legal question that faced officials in the Francis and Broom cases, and now faces Ohio officials who failed to execute Campbell. What should be done with him?

Should the state, having failed in its first execution attempt, be able to try again? Are we well served when we force the condemned to undergo the psychological torture of having to prepare to die, only to have to relive the experience of execution a second time?

The courts bent over backward to permit a second execution in the Francis and Broom cases. In the former, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the state would only be barred from going through with a second execution if it had intentionally botched the first. Even if the state were careless or negligent in its first execution attempt, the court said, it could still proceed with another. The state of Louisiana went ahead and put Francis to death.

In March 2016, the Ohio Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Broom to stop his second execution. The court reaffirmed the Francis precedent and added that since the lethal chemicals had not begun to flow when his execution was halted, his “punishment” had not really begun. The United States Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal that a second execution would constitute double jeopardy and cruel and unusual punishment. Broom awaits his execution date on Ohio’s death row.

The fine legalisms of the Francis and Broom decisions give the state too much room for error in the serious business of putting someone to death. If the state is going to kill, it should have the burden of getting it right the first time. The law should allow no second chances.

I say this not out of sympathy for those whose heinous acts bring them to the death chamber, but because how a society punishes reveals its true character. Punishment tells us who we are.

When we punish cruelly we create “a class of punishers whose lives are wasted and their characters depraved so that as citizens they become almost as undesirable as the criminals they torture.”

Those are the words of a playwright, George Bernard Shaw, and, as Ohio considers what to do with Campbell, it should heed his warning. Ohio failed to execute Alva Campbell, despite all the warning signs of the risk of failure because of his weakened physical state. Now, Ohio’s citizens and public officials should be careful, lest in their eagerness to try a second time, they “become almost as undesirable” as the murderer they seek to execute.

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Executions Scheduled for 2018


Executions Scheduled for 2018


Month State Prisoner
January
2 PA Sheldon Hannibal — STAYED
3 OH John Stumpf — RESCHEDULED
3 OH William Montgomery — RESCHEDULED
18 TX Anthony Shore
25 AL Vernon Madison
30 TX William Rayford
February
1 TX John Battaglia
13 OH Warren K. Henness — RESCHEDULED
13 OH Robert Van Hook — RESCHEDULED
13 OH Raymond Tibbetts
22 TX Thomas Whitaker
March
14 OH Douglas Coley — RESCHEDULED
14 OH Warren K. Henness — RESCHEDULED
20 MO Russell Bucklew
27 TX Rosendo Rodriguez
April
11 OH Melvin Bonnell — RESCHEDULED
11 OH William Montgomery
May
30 OH Stanley Fitzpatrick — RESCHEDULED
June
27 OH Angelo Fears — RESCHEDULED
July
18 OH Robert Van Hook
August
1 OH David A. Sneed — RESCHEDULED
September
13 OH Cleveland R. Jackson
October
10 OH James Derrick O’Neal — RESCHEDULED
November
14 OH John David Stumpf — RESCHEDULED

Susan Sarandon Reads Richard Glossip’s Statement (via Sister Helen Prejean) on The Dr. Phil Show


Actress Susan Sarandon read this message from Richard Glossip on The Dr. Phil Show on Monday, August 31, 2015:

Mr. Van Treese’s death was a horrible thing, and something no family should have to go through. But I did not murder him. And yet that’s what the State of Oklahoma is going to do to me. I have to ask: How does murdering another innocent man make things better? I also have a family who should not have to suffer through that; they should not have to see their father, their brother, their uncle killed. That is not justice.

I have been fighting for my innocence for 18 years. I now understand how important my fight is, not just for myself but for everyone facing the death penalty for something they didn’t do. I’m not doing this for myself alone. I hope and pray that my eventual exoneration will help others, and that this country will finally realize just how broken our system is, and how easy it is to make mistakes. Let me be clear, I do not want to be a martyr — I want to live — but if the worst happens, I want my death not to be in vain. If my execution ensured no other innocent man was sent to the death chamber, I am prepared to die for that cause.

I have never been in trouble with the law in my life. I have worked hard. Paid my taxes. I was a good citizen and always tried to help others. Now I have gone from doing everything right to fighting for my life. I’m asking everyone to stand up and let their voices be heard. Go torichardeglossip.com and join this fight. Call Governor Fallin. We have to stand together to make a difference.

God bless you all, please know that I’m praying for you all.

Richard Glossip

http://drphil.com/shows/page/14006_GlossipStatement/

UPCOMING EXECUTIONS 2015, UPDATE


UPTADE AUGUST 29, 2015

Month State Inmate
August
13 TX Tracy Beatty – STAYED
18 TN David Miller – STAYED
26 TX Bernardo Tercero (foreign national) STAYED
27 MS Richard Jordan (date requested by Atty. Gen.; not final) EXECUTION HALTED
27 PA Maurice Patterson – STAY LIKELY
28 PA Hector Morales- STAY LIKELY
September
1 MO Roderick Nunley EXECUTED 9:09 PM
2 TX Joe Garza STAYED
3 PA Herbert Blakeney- STAY LIKELY
16 OK Richard Glossip
17 OH Angelo Fears – STAYED*
17 OH William Montgomery – STAYED^
29 TX Perry Williams
October
6 MO Kimber Edwards
6 TN Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman – STAYED
6 TX Juan Garcia
7 OK Benjamin Cole
14 TX Licho Escamilla
28 OK John Grant
28 TX Christopher Wilkins
November
3 TX Julius Murphy
10 TX
Gilmar Guevara
17 OH Cleveland R. Jackson – STAYED*
17 OH Robert Van Hook – STAYED^
17 TN Nicholas Sutton – STAYED
18 TX Raphael Holiday

Oklahoma Governor Says She Can’t Stop Glossip’s Execution


Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin does not have the power to commute the death sentence of Richard Glossip, her office said in response to criticism by activist actress Susan Sarandon.
Glossip is scheduled to die on Sept. 16 for hiring a man to murder his employer, Bary Allan Van Treese, in 1997. Glossip has always maintained his innocence.
Sarandon, who has campaigned against the death penalty for years, called Fallin a “horrible person” for refusing to intervene.
“Richard’s case is so typical. Bad representation, 2 trials that were ridiculous, no physical evidence,” Sarandon told the British news group Sky News on Thursday.
“He’s put there by a snitch who actually did kill the person, and then the snitch has life and this guy is being put to death on the 16th. Once a mistake has been made within a judicial system, people just do not want to admit that mistake has been made and it becomes impossible to readdress them. And the only thing now that is going to give him a chance to survive is public opinion – is public embarrassment.” Sarandon urged people to write Fallin to stop the execution.
She called the Glossip case “a perfect example of what’s wrong with the death penalty, and so of course I’m hoping that some kind of exposure will give him the opportunity to maybe get his sentence at least commuted, because he’s clearly innocent, and on top of that the guy who actually killed the person is in a minimum security prison for the rest of his life.”
Fallin’s spokesman Alex Weintz responded to Sarandon and several media inquiries on Twitter, saying Fallin does not have the ability to grant Glossip clemency.
“The limit of her legal ability to intervene is to grant a 60 day stay,” Weintz tweeted Thursday. “The gov[ernor] can only grant clemency [to] inmates who have been recommended clemency by the Pardon and Parole Board. Glossip’s request was unanimously denied … To say Glossip has had his day in court is an understatement. He has been pursuing the same arguments publicly and in court for 20 years. He was convicted of murder in court twice and sentenced to death twice by 2 juries (24 total jurors unanimous in their verdict).”
Even if Fallin could grant clemency, doing so would “unilaterally overturn” the judgments of jurors and several courts, including the 10th Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court, Weintz said.
“Glossip’s execution is going forward because he is (a) guilty and (b) has exhausted his legal options,” he said. “Final thought: there are multiple victims here, none of them Glossip. A man beaten to death, wife without a husband, 5 kids with no dad.”
Susan Sarandon
Susan Sarandon
Sarandon won an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1995 for her portrayal of anti-death penalty activist Sister Helen Prejean in “Dead Man Walking.” Prejean also has called for Glossip’s exoneration.
Glossip and 3 other death row inmates sued Oklahoma last year, claiming its use of midazolam – the 1st drug in a new 3-drug replacement protocol – fails to render a person insensate to pain, in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
States have been forced to seek replacement execution drugs from compounding pharmacies after anti-death penalty opponents persuaded large drug manufacturers to stop making lethal injection drugs. Oklahoma’s previous protocol required pentobarbital to knock the inmate unconscious, vecuronium to stop breathing and potassium chloride to stop the heart.
Glossip’s lawsuit was filed after the botched execution of murderer Clayton Lockett, 38, in April 2014. He was declared unconscious after being injected with midazolam, but breathed heavily, writhed, clenched his teeth and strained to lift his head off a pillow 3 minutes later. Blinds separating a viewing gallery and the death chamber were lowered and Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton ordered the execution stopped. It took Lockett 43 minutes to die of a heart attack.
In a 5-4 ruling on June 29, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the new execution protocol. Oklahoma quickly rescheduled four executions. The Supreme Court said the inmates failed “to identify a known and available alternative method of execution that entails a lesser risk of pain.”
Source: Courthouse News, August 8, 2015

 

“I want people to know I didn’t kill this man,” death row inmate Richard Glossip still claims innocence


Richard Glossip, 52, will be the next Oklahoma inmate to be executed under the state lethal injection protocol approved by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Court of Criminal Appeals set Glossip’s execution date for September 15, 2016.
Glossip will be put to death for his role in the brutal murder of Barry Van Treese in 1997.
Late last year, Ali Meyer traveled to McAlester to talk with Glossip about his case, his execution and his claims of innocence.
“I’m prepared for whatever happens, but it’s not easy,” Glossip said behind a wall of thick glass and metal bars. “It’s like you’re in a tomb, just waiting to die so they can finish it off. You hardly get any contact, and the contact you have is with guards. It’s hard; harder than people think it is. People think we’ve got it easy down here. It’s not true.”
Richard Eugene Glossip has been on Oklahoma’s death row for 17 years.
“The dying part doesn’t bother me. Everybody dies, but I want people to know I didn’t kill this man (Barry Van Treese). I didn’t participate or plan or anything to do with this crime. I want people to know that it’s not just for me that I’m speaking out. It’s for other people on death row around this country who are innocent and are going to be executed for something they didn’t do. It’s not right that it’s happening. We’re in a country where that should never happen.”
Richard Glossip was convicted of murder-for-hire in the 1997 death of Barry Van Treese.
“They offered me a life sentence at my 2nd trial. I turned it down because I’m not going to stand there and admit to something that I didn’t do. Even though my attorneys said I was an idiot for turning it down because I could end up back on death row. I prefer death row than to tell somebody I committed a crime I didn’t do.” Glossip said. “I understand people want the death penalty, especially in the state of Oklahoma because of the crimes that are committed. I understand that even though I don’t believe in it. But, one thing you should be absolutely sure about is that you’re not about to kill an innocent man.”
Glossip’s co-worker, Justin Sneed, confessed to the murder of Barry Van Treese. Sneed testified against Glossip in exchange for his life. Sneed is now serving a life sentence.
“I wake up and look at these walls and think, ‘How the hell am I here?’ I think about it, try to figure out what went wrong. I just can’t figure it out. It’s a scary thing.”
The State of Oklahoma will use the controversial execution drug Midazolam to put Richard Glossip to death.
“It just really doesn’t make any sense to me what’s going on. They’re just in such a hurry to kill.”
Last year, the State of Oklahoma spent 5 months revamping the death chamber to carry out executions.
“You’re crammed in this box and every day you think about dying. You know they’re putting these cells up there to stick you in. I think that’s when it got even scarier the day they started construction because then you know they’re going through all this stuff to make sure they kill somebody. That’s a scary thing to think about.”
WHAT HAPPENED IN ROOM 102 — Oklahoma Prepares to Execute Richard Glossip 
On June 29, the very day the United States Supreme Court upheld Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol in Glossip v. Gross, signaling to the state that it could resume executions, State Attorney General Scott Pruitt wasted no time. His office sent a request to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals asking that death warrants be signed for the next 3 men in line for the gurney – the same 3 men whose challenge had made it all the way to Washington. “The above inmates have exhausted all regular state and federal appeals,” the attorney general wrote, respectfully urging the Court to schedule their executions. On Wednesday, July 8, the Court complied, setting 3 dates for the fall.
Richard Glossip is 1st in line to die, on September 16. As the lead plaintiff in the case before the Supreme Court, his name became synonymous with the legal fight over midazolam, a drug linked to a number of botched executions, but which the Court decided is constitutional for carrying out lethal injections. Glossip, who spoke to The Intercept hours after the ruling, did not have time to dwell on the decision. Even if the Court had ruled in his favor, he pointed out, Oklahoma remained determined to execute him and has provided itself with a range of options for doing so – most recently, adding nitrogen gas to the mix. With a new execution date looming, “I’m trying to stop them from killing me by any method,” Glossip said, “because of the fact that I’m innocent.”
Glossip has always maintained his innocence, ever since he was arrested in the winter of 1997 for a grisly killing that authorities prosecuted as a murder-for-hire. It is true that he himself did not kill anyone – a 19-year-old man named Justin Sneed confessed to police that he beat the victim to death with a baseball bat – but Glossip was identified as the “mastermind” behind the crime. Sneed, who worked for Glossip, claimed his boss pressured him to carry out the murder, offering him employment opportunities and several thousand dollars in return. There was very little additional evidence to back up his claims, but Sneed nevertheless was able to secure the state’s conviction of Glossip, saving himself from death row. Today, Sneed is serving life without parole at a medium security prison in Lexington, Oklahoma. Meanwhile, Glossip faces execution, while continuing to insist he had nothing to do with the murder. Last January, he came within a day of being executed and was in the process of saying goodbye to family when the Supreme Court granted certiorari to his lethal injection challenge.
Glossip has some outspoken supporters, including family members, the longtime anti-death penalty activist Sister Helen Prejean, as well as his former defense attorney, Wayne Fournerat, who was adamant in a conversation with The Intercept that his former client is innocent. But last October a particularly unlikely figure came forward to plead that Oklahoma spare Glossip’s life: O’Ryan Justine Sneed – Justin Sneed’s grown daughter. In a letter to the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, she wrote that, based on her many communications with her dad, she “strongly believe[s]” that Richard Glossip is an innocent man. “For a couple of years now, my father has been talking to me about recanting his original testimony,” she wrote. “I feel his conscious [sic] is getting to him.”
Justine Sneed’s letter never reached the board. It arrived in the mail too late for Glossip’s attorneys to submit it for consideration. To date, Sneed himself has not come forward – according to his daughter, he fears what it could mean for his plea deal. Nor has she made any further public statements since her letter was published. (The Intercept made numerous attempts to reach her for an interview.) Her claims do not prove that Sneed lied, of course. But the available records in the 18-year-old case of Richard Glossip are themselves good reason for concern. From the police interrogation of Justin Sneed in 1997 to transcripts from Glossip’s 2 trials, the picture that emerges is one of a flimsy conviction, a case based on the word of a confessed murderer with a very good incentive to lie, and very little else. As Oklahoma gets ready to restart executions using its newly sanctioned lethal injection protocol, time is running out to answer the question: Could the state be preparing to kill an innocent man?
It was sometime after 4 a.m. on January 7, 1997, that 33-year-old Richard Glossip woke up to the sound of pounding on the wall outside his apartment at the Best Budget Inn in Oklahoma City. He lived there with his girlfriend of five years, D-Anna Wood; she later described waking up to “scraping on the wall.” It was “kind of scary loud,” she said.
Glossip had lived at the motel since 1995, when he was hired by the owner, Barry Van Treese, a father of 5 who lived some 90 miles away and owned a second motel in Tulsa. Van Treese happened to be visiting Oklahoma City, but he generally relied on Glossip to run the daily operations, only dropping by a couple times a month to pay his staff and check on the property. For managing the Best Budget Inn, Glossip received a salary of $1,500 a month, as well as room and board in the apartment adjacent to the motel’s office. On Mondays, which were usually slower nights, he and Wood would lock the front door to the motel around 2 a.m. Any guest trying to check in after that hour had to ring a buzzer to get in.

Read more: http://deathpenaltynews.blogspot.com/#ixzz3fnr8JI6T

UPCOMING EXECUTIONS 2015, UPDATE


UPDATE JULY 10, 205


Month State Inmate
July
14 MO David Zink EXECUTED 7.41 PM
15 OH Alva Cambell, Jr. – STAYED*
15 OH Warren K. Henness – STAYED
16 TX Clifton Williams  STAYED
August
12 TX Daniel Lopez  executed
18 TN David Miller – STAYED
26 TX Bernardo Tercero
September
2 TX Joe Garza
16 OK Richard Glossip
17 OH Angelo Fears – STAYED*
17 OH William Montgomery – STAYED^
October
6 TN Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman – STAYED
6 TX Juan Garcia
7 OK Benjamin Cole
11 TX Gilmar Guevara
14 TX Licho Escamilla
28 OK John Grant
28 TX Christopher Wilkins
November
17 OH Cleveland R. Jackson – STAYED*
17 OH Robert Van Hook – STAYED^
17 TN Nicholas Sutton – STAYED

USA: Many Basic Facts About Executions Remain Secret – Until Something Goes Wrong


June 24, 2015

As Oklahoma’s death-row inmates await word on whether the state’s execution procedure is constitutional, states – including Oklahoma – maintain strong laws protecting disclosure of information about the way they implement the death penalty.
Last year, an Oklahoma inmate sat on a gurney for 43 minutes while the drugs that were supposed to course swiftly through his body and kill him failed to do so.
Any day now, the Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision in a case on whether Oklahoma’s death penalty protocol is constitutional, a case filed in the aftermath of that botched execution, many of the details of which still remain shrouded in secrecy. How the Supreme Court will decide – how narrowly or broadly or whether they will issue an opinion at all – is unknown.
One thing is clear, however, in Oklahoma and elsewhere: The way people are executed in America is increasingly done in secret.
The identities of the actual executioners have been secret for a long time. But in recent years, states have extended that same secrecy to the very drugs used to kill people – where they’re purchased, how they’re purchased, and how they’re prepared and administered.
Death penalty lawyers argue the secrecy means they don’t find out about many of the problems until something goes wrong. But even in those cases, investigations are done by the state itself, shielding an unknown amount of that information – beyond what the state releases – from public disclosure.
Lockett’s execution took place more than a year ago, yet reporters in Oklahoma are still waiting for Gov. Mary Fallin’s office to turn over emails and records from that night. Eventually Ziva Branstetter, a journalist now with the Tulsa Frontier, had little choice but to sue for the documents in December of last year.
Fallin has attempted to delay the suit – arguing that, although her office hasn’t turned over the records, she hasn’t formally denied the request either. Fallin’s office claimed in court that absent a formal denial, the courts couldn’t weigh in.
The response from Fallin isn’t an anomaly, either. Her office has stopped responding to emails about a BuzzFeed News open records request from months ago.
In a statement, a Fallin spokesperson said the governor was committed to transparency.
“It is an extremely time-consuming process,” Alex Weintz said. “And, since our office gets many Open Records requests, it can take a while to receive documents in response to a request.”
The situation in Oklahoma isn’t unusual.
“Departments of Corrections have realized that the more information they provide, the more it reveals how little they know,” said Deborah Denno, a law professor who has followed the death penalty for decades.
“It’s always been there, but now it’s becoming more pronounced. The only time we really find out what’s going on is when something goes wrong and we have a really badly botched execution.”
The secrecy has also provided cover when things go wrong. That’s how it has played out in Georgia after state officials had to halt an impending execution after finding particles floating in the syringe.
Georgia officials said the state would put its executions on hold while it investigated what went wrong. Attorney Gerald “Bo” King, who represents the woman on death row, worried that the “self-investigation” would be biased.
“[The state] will not be merely the subject of this investigation; they will also conduct it,” King wrote in March. “And they will hide all critical aspects of their self-assessment from Ms. Gissendaner, the public, and this court.”
Those concerns have been borne out in the time since. After a short investigation, Georgia told the courts, the press, and the public that the likeliest cause of the drug’s issues is that it was stored at too low of a temperature. But state officials did not publicize the fact that the expert consulted by the state also pointed to a 2nd possible cause – problems with how the drug was made. The state then withheld the results of a test that could support or cast doubt on that assessment, refusing to turn those results over to BuzzFeed News in an open records request.
“After reflection,” – and a BuzzFeed News report detailing how the state was withholding the results – the state changed its mind and released them. The results cast doubt on their assessment that it was temperature, and not a problem with the secret pharmacist that mixed the drug, that caused the drug to go bad.
The lethal injection problems have not appeared to change the minds of those who have supported the secrecy.
“Georgia did the right thing, they didn’t use the drug. It’s not a problem,” said Kent Scheidegger of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, an organization that works to support the death penalty. “Oklahoma – they did have one case where the insertion wasn’t done correctly. But they’ve taken steps to fix it.”
Scheidegger and other supporters argue that the secrecy is vital. Without it, he says, people wouldn’t be willing to participate in executions or sell lethal drugs.
“I cannot think of another instance where companies would face the same criticism for participating in a government function,” Scheidegger said.
Military companies aren’t shielded from public scrutiny, and the amounts the government pays those companies are a matter of public record. When asked why this should be different, Scheidegger said, “I lived through Vietnam era and I don’t remember them doing this with military contractors.”
“As long as the drug is tested, it shouldn’t matter where it comes from,” he added.
It’s the argument that almost all other states have made when the secrecy has been challenged.
In fact, these days, Nebraska seems to be the only state fine with turning over records that illustrate how its lethal drugs are procured, even if the Food and Drug Administration has said those drugs are illegal and will be seized.
Nebraska’s lethal injection drugs are purchased from a supplier in India.

 

Oklahoma Postpones Execution After First Is Botched- Clayton Lockett, stay for Warner


April 29, 2014

McALESTER, Okla. — What was supposed to be the first of two executions here Tuesday night was halted when the prisoner, Clayton D. Lockett, began to twitch and gasp after he had already been declared unconscious and called out “man” and “something’s wrong,” according to witnesses.

The administering doctor intervened and discovered that “the line had blown,” said the director of corrections, Robert Patton, meaning that drugs were no longer flowing into his vein.

At 7:06 p.m., Mr. Patton said, Mr. Lockett died of a heart attack.

Mr. Patton said he had requested a stay of 14 days in the second execution scheduled for Tuesday night, of Charles F. Warner.

It was a chaotic and disastrous step in Oklahoma’s long effort to execute the two men, overcoming their objections that the state would not disclose the source of the drugs being used in a newly tried combination.

  It did not appear that any of the drugs themselves failed, but rather the method of administration, but it resulted in what witnesses called an agonizing scene.

“This was botched, and it was difficult to watch,” said David Autry, one of Mr. Lockett’s lawyers.

A doctor started to administer the first drug, a sedative intended to knock the man out, at 6:23. Ten minutes later, the doctor said that Mr. Lockett was unconscious, and started to administer the next two drugs, a paralytic and one intended to make the heart stop.

At that point, witnesses said, things began to go awry. Mr. Lockett’s body moved, his foot shook, and he mumbled, witnesses said. 

At 6 :37, he tried to rise and exhaled loudly. At that point, prison officials pulled a curtain in front of the witnesses and the doctor discovered a “vein failure,” Mr. Patton said.

The appeals for disclosure about the drug sources, supported by a state court in March, threw Oklahoma’s highest courts and elected officials into weeks of conflict and disarray, with courts arguing over which should consider the request for a politically unpopular stay of execution, the governor defying the State Supreme Court’s ruling for a delay, and a legislator seeking impeachment of the justices.

The planned executions of Mr. Lockett, 38, and Mr. Warner, 46, dramatized the growing tension nationally over secrecy in lethal injections as drug companies, saying they are fearful of political and even physical attack, refuse to supply drugs, and many states scramble to find new sources and try untested combinations. Several states have imposed secrecy on the suppliers of lethal injection drugs, leading to court battles over due process and the ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Lawyers for the two convicts said the lack of supplier information made it impossible to know if the drugs were safe and effective, or might possibly violate the ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Officials swore that the drugs were obtained legally from licensed pharmacies, and had not expired. Gov. Mary Fallin, expressing the sentiment of many here, said: “Two men that do not contest their guilt in heinous murders will now face justice.”

But that question was overshadowed by Tuesday night’s disastrous mishap, which is certain to generate more challenges to lethal injection, long considered the most humane of execution methods.

 Mr. Lockett was convicted of shooting a 19-year-old woman in 1999 and having her buried alive. Mr. Warner, condemned for the rape and murder of an 11-month-old girl in 1997, was to be executed two hours later. .

The two men spent Tuesday in adjacent cells, visited by their lawyers and, in Mr. Warner’s case, family members. The hulking white penitentiary here in a small town of southeast Oklahoma, amid prairies now green from soaking spring rains, is the prison from which Tom Joad is paroled in the opening pages of John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath.”

In keeping with the untried drug protocol announced by the Corrections Department this month, Mr. Lockett was first injected with midazolam, a benzodiazepine intended to render the prisoner unconscious and unable to feel pain. This was followed by injections of vecuronium bromide, a paralyzing agent that stops breathing, and then potassium chloride, which stops the heart.

This combination has been used in Florida, but with a much higher dose of midazolam than Oklahoma is planning to use. Without effective sedation, the second two drugs are known to cause agonizing suffocation and pain.

Oklahoma and other states have turned to compounding pharmacies — lightly regulated laboratories that mix up drugs to order. Opponents have raised questions about quality control, especially after the widely reported dying gasps of a convict in Ohio for more than 10 minutes, and an Oklahoma inmate’s utterance, “I feel my whole body burning,” after being injected with compounded drugs.

Mr. Lockett and Mr. Warner were scheduled to be executed in March, but officials said they had been unable to buy the drugs, and the executions were delayed. Oklahoma later said it had found a federally approved manufacturer to provide the drugs, but refused to identify it.

Oklahoma’s attorney general, Scott Pruitt, derided the lawsuits over drug secrecy, calling them delaying tactics. Many legal experts, especially death penalty opponents, say otherwise.

“Information on the drug that is intended to act as the anesthetic is crucial to ensure that the execution will be humane,” said Jennifer Moreno, a lawyer with the Berkeley Law School’s Death Penalty Clinic.

Elsewhere, Texas has refused to reveal where it obtained a new batch of compounded drugs; a challenge is before the State Supreme Court. Georgia passed a law last year making information about lethal drug suppliers a “confidential state secret”; a challenge is also pending in that state’s top court.

This month, the United States Supreme Court declined to hear suits attacking drug secrecy in Missouri and Louisiana.

But three of the justices expressed interest and the issue seems likely to be considered by the Supreme Court at some point, said Eric M. Freedman, a professor of constitutional law at Hofstra University who considers the secrecy a violation of due process.

In March, it appeared that Mr. Lockett and Mr. Warner had won the right to know more about the drugs when an Oklahoma judge ruled that the secrecy law was unconstitutional. But the judge said she did not have the authority to grant the men stays of execution, sending the inmates into a Kafkaesque legal maze.

The state has an unusual court system, sending criminal appeals to a top criminal court and civil matters to its Supreme Court. The Court of Criminal Appeals repeatedly turned back the Supreme Court’s order to rule on a stay, while the attorney general insisted that the executions would go ahead.

Last Monday, the Supreme Court said that to avoid a miscarriage of justice, it would delay the executions until it had time to resolve the secrecy matter.

The next day, Governor Fallin, a Republican, said the Supreme Court had overstepped its powers, and directed officials to carry out both executions on April 29. An outraged legislator, Representative Mike Christian, said he would seek to impeach the justices, who were already under fire from conservative legislators for striking down laws the court deemed unconstitutional.

A constitutional crisis appeared to be brewing. But last Wednesday, the Supreme Court announced a decision on the secrecy issue — overturning the lower court and declaring that the executions could proceed.

Oklahoma: Clayton Lockett execution


April 29, 2014

Clayton Lockett’s execution was slated to begin at 6:00p.m.

At 6:37 Clayton Lockett was not unconscious and said something is wrong.

Oklahoma Dept. of Corrections closed the blinds on Clayton Lockett at 6:39

Execution stopped at 6:39 after Clayton Lockett started moving and talking.

Clayton Lockett’s execution has been suspended.

The state of Oklahoma has botched the execution of Clayton Lockett. His status is unknown right now.

Execution of Clayton Lockett failed. Execution of Charles Warner stayed by corrections director Robert Patton.

BREAKING

Clayton Lockett died inside the execution chamber at 7:06 pm of a massive heart attack according to DOC officials.

Oklahoma halts execution after botching delivery of new drug combination, postpones 2nd execution

Source: Agencies, April 29, 2014