Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Okies botch double execution of blacks

To say things didn’t go as planned would be an understatement.
Oklahoma was planning its first ever double execution.
In the end, one man died of a heart attack after witnesses had to briefly watch him shaking and writhing in pain before a curtain was pulled shut
The execution of the second man was delayed. Later, it was announced executions were being delayed for at least 14 days to allow an investigation.
Both men are black.
The state, like others facing a shortage of certified execution drugs, was trying a new cocktail of drugs.
The manufacturers of the drugs previously used to execute prisoners have stopped making them or in the case of European companies, stopped selling them to the US. The death penalty is not used in Europe.
The lack of drugs has delayed many executions, and Tuesday’s incident was not the first time a prisoner faced what was undoubtedly cruel and unusual punishment.
Allvoices Stephen Pope reported it was the second execution in a row to be botched using midazolam. The dose used in Ohio's botched execution of Dennis McGuire was a subclinical dose. There have been other similar cases.
Mother Jones identified the drug combination as including midazolam but the exact ingredients and dosages are unclear. The state pays for the drugs with petty cash so the drugs cannot be traced.
Oklahoma had said it would use a combination of midazolam (a sedative) and hydromorphone (a pain killer) plus a third drug, possibly pancuronium bromide.
Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton said inmate Clayton Lockett died after all three drugs were delivered. Patton halted the execution attempt after 20 minutes.
It was reported that he was heard saying: "Something's wrong."
The date for the execution of the second inmate, Charles Warner, will be determined after the moratorium of 14 days is up.
Death penalty opponents hoped the latest medieval type execution would turn public opionion around. "This could be a real turning point in the whole debate as people get disgusted by this sort of thing. This might lead to a halt in executions until states can prove they can do it without problems. Someone was killed tonight by incompetence," Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, told AP. The center tracks executions.
Dieter had earlier said, "It is an experiment, and I don’t think anybody is absolutely certain what will happen in Oklahoma," said Dieter.
"After weeks of Oklahoma refusing to disclose basic information about the drugs for tonight's lethal injection procedures, tonight, Clayton Lockett was tortured to death," his lawyer, Madeline Cohen, said.
The fiasco Tuesday made it even more poignant that the two prisoners had filed a request with the Oklahoma courts to be told which drugs would be used to kill them. The Oklahoma Supreme Court said they had no right to know.
Both men were convicted of brutal murders.
Lockett, 38, was convicted of the June 1999 shooting death of 19-year-old Stephanie Lockett, who was buried in shallow grave. He also was convicted of rape, kidnapping and other charges.
The 46-year-old Warner, who maintains his innocence, was convicted of raping and killing his roommate's 11-month-old daughter in 1997.
Here is how the Oklahoman described the event:
Lockett grimaced and tensed his body several times over a three-minute period before the execution was shielded from the press. After being declared unconscious 10 minutes into the process, Lockett spoke at three separate moments. The first two were inaudible, however the third time he spoke, Lockett said the word 'man.'”
Associated Press
USA Today

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