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Governor calls for review after botched execution

By Bailey Elsie McBride & Sean Murphy

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 11:45 a.m. HST, Apr 30, 2014

McALESTER, Okla. >>Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin named a member of her Cabinet on Wednesday to lead a review of how the state conducts executions after a botched procedure that the White House said fell short of the humane standards required.

Fallin said Clayton Lockett, who had an apparent heart attack 43 minutes after the start of an execution in which the state was using a new drug combination for the first time, had his day in court.

"I believe the death penalty is an appropriate response and punishment to those who commit heinous crimes against their fellow men and women," Fallin said. "However, I also believe the state needs to be certain of its protocols and its procedures for executions and that they work."

Lockett convulsed violently and tried to lift his head after a doctor declared him unconscious, and prison officials halted the execution. Fallin said "an independent review of the Department of Corrections procedures would be effective and also appropriate."

The governor said the review, to be led by Department of Public Safety Commissioner Michael Thompson, will focus on Lockett's cause of death, noting that the Oklahoma State Medical Examiner has authorized an independent pathologist to make that determination. The review will also look at whether the department followed the current protocol correctly and will also include recommendations for future executions.

Fallin also said a stay for Charles Warner, who had been scheduled to die two hours after Lockett, is in place until May 13. She said Warner's execution will be further delayed if the independent review is not complete by then.

Warner's attorney immediately raised objections to the investigation being led by a member of Fallin's cabinet.

"I don't consider that to be an independent investigation," said attorney Madeline Cohen.

Lockett, 38, had been declared unconscious 10 minutes after the first of three drugs in the state's new lethal injection combination was administered Tuesday evening. Three minutes later, he began breathing heavily, clenching his teeth and straining to lift his head. Officials later blamed a ruptured vein for the problems with the execution, which are likely to fuel more debate about the ability of states to administer lethal injections that meet the U.S. Constitution's requirement they be neither cruel nor unusual punishment.

The blinds eventually were lowered to prevent those in the viewing gallery from watching what was happening in the death chamber, and the state's top prison official later called a halt to the proceedings. Lockett died of a heart attack shortly thereafter, the Department of Corrections said.

Most executions in Oklahoma, which used different fast-acting barbiturates, were completed and the inmate declared dead within about 10 minutes of the start of the procedure.

In Washington, White House spokesman Jay Carney said President Barack Obama believes that evidence suggests the death penalty does little to deter crime, but that some crimes are so heinous that the death penalty is merited.

Lockett, a four-time felon, was convicted of shooting 19-year-old Stephanie Neiman and watching as two accomplices buried her alive in rural Kay County in 1999. Neiman and a friend had interrupted the men as they robbed a home.

"But it's also the case that we have a fundamental standard in this country that even when the death penalty is justified, it must be carried out humanely," Carney said. "Everyone would recognize this case fell short of this standard."

Questions about execution procedures have drawn renewed attention from defense attorneys and death penalty opponents in recent months, as several states scrambled to find new sources of execution drugs because drugmakers that oppose capital punishment -- many based in Europe -- have stopped selling to U.S. prisons and corrections departments.

Defense attorneys have unsuccessfully challenged several states' policies of shielding the identities of the source of their execution drugs. 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.

The medical examiner's office, which said earlier Wednesday that the autopsy had begun, later said only the toxicology portion of the autopsy had been started and that the surgical portion will be conducted by an independent pathologist.

Medical examiner's spokeswoman Amy Elliott said the autopsy on Lockett would include an examination of the injection sites on his arms and a toxicology report to determine what drugs were in his system. Elliott said and it could take two to four months to complete the toxicology report.

Tuesday was the first time Oklahoma used the sedative midazolam as the first element in its execution drug combination. Other states have used it before; Florida administers 500 milligrams of midazolam as part of its three-drug combination. Oklahoma used 100 milligrams of that drug.

Oklahoma's Attorney General Scott Pruitt had said about a month ago that the lower dosage would ensure the state maintains an adequate supply for future executions. Pruitt said that the information the state had indicated that at that dose, "you go to sleep doggone quick."

In Ohio, the January execution of an inmate who made snorting and gasping sounds led to a civil rights lawsuit by his family and calls for a moratorium. That execution also used the drug midazolam, but in a lower dosage than Oklahoma used and as part of a two-drug combination. The state has stood by the execution but said Monday that it's boosting the dosages of its lethal injection drugs.

Lockett and Warner had sued the state for refusing to disclose details about the execution drugs, including where Oklahoma obtained them. The case, filed as a civil matter, placed Oklahoma's two highest courts at odds. The state Supreme Court later dismissed the inmates' claim that they were entitled to know the source of the drugs.

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Wahiawamauka wrote:
I'd say it was successful not botched.
on April 30,2014 | 06:23AM
cojef wrote:
Social progressives will have field day with this case.
on April 30,2014 | 06:37AM
soundofreason wrote:
I would have liked to have seen them save him form his heart attack so they could then go back, again, and do it properly.
on April 30,2014 | 06:46AM
ryan02 wrote:
Yeah, I don't think he suffered ENOUGH. He got off easier than his victim.
on April 30,2014 | 06:56AM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
I just read that some of the nut case Islamist groups in Syria are now actually crucifying people. I mean full on crucifixion you know the cross, nails, dude in fill view of the peeps. Pretty coll huh, were just like them now - make um suffer before they die.
on April 30,2014 | 08:35AM
cojef wrote:
Well after raping the victim, he watched his friends bury the girl alive. Poetic justice?
on April 30,2014 | 10:35AM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
I get your point man, I see where you are going, the guys in Oklahoma went all Taliban on this dude, yeah real poetic justice.
on April 30,2014 | 01:27PM
jmarie wrote:
I agree I don't understand the head line "Man dies of heart attack after botched execution" how is it botched if he died? Liberals make me sick, who's John Galt?
on April 30,2014 | 07:12AM
Skyler wrote:
Your last sentence makes no sense... just sayin.'
on April 30,2014 | 10:15AM
soundofreason wrote:
Stop watching movies like Hangover 2 and it WILL make sense. Google it - give yourself wisdom 90 minutes after.
on April 30,2014 | 09:26PM
Skyler wrote:
Sounds like the objective was achieved to me, too.
on April 30,2014 | 10:17AM
soundofreason wrote:
"A four-time felon, Lockett was convicted of shooting 19-year-old Stephanie Neiman and watching as two accomplices buried her alive in rural Kay County in 1999. Neiman and a friend had interrupted the men as they robbed a home.">>>> THAT kind of botched? Cry me a river.
on April 30,2014 | 06:43AM
PCWarrior wrote:
One bullet more cheap.
on April 30,2014 | 09:52AM
loquaciousone wrote:
If the guy died anyway, why are they calling it botched?
on April 30,2014 | 07:03AM
jmarie wrote:
what did you expect from liberals? the only sad thing was that it wasn't televised!
on April 30,2014 | 07:13AM
DABLACK wrote:
Banana Government !!
on April 30,2014 | 07:55AM
Waokanaka wrote:
In order to receive the death penalty, this bum KILLED at least one innocent human being in a most unpleasant manner. So he got a taste of his own medecine. Big deal, does anyone think he offered the same courtesy to HIS victim(s) ?? He's dead & that's good
on April 30,2014 | 08:18AM
false wrote:
Perfect ending
on April 30,2014 | 08:21AM
saveparadise wrote:
Just has been done. Why are these numbnuts making a big deal out of this? What about the REAL victims?? Things that make you say #@&*k!!!!
on April 30,2014 | 08:48AM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
Yeah but if you are going to put some dude down you can't turn it into a horror show. All the government did on our behalf was lower ourselves to his level and in turn make him into a victim of government incompetence and torture. If you can't kill some dude right just throw the dude in jail for the rest of his life and be done with him. I mean geez why so complicated, how about a .45 to the back of the head.
on April 30,2014 | 09:46AM
Skyler wrote:
They didn't do it on purpose; possibly a blown vein from what I read elsewhere. These things happen, ya know?
on April 30,2014 | 10:19AM
saveparadise wrote:
Justice has been done. Why are these numbnuts making a big deal out of this? What about the REAL victims?? Things that make you say #@&*k!!!!
on April 30,2014 | 08:50AM
silvangold wrote:
taking into consideration the reason for the execution, it definately was not botched. irony : he watched his victim be buried ALIVE after he shot her. his audience watched him die......with pain..... same same.
on April 30,2014 | 10:41AM
TheFarm wrote:
If we condone this - torture to death - how are we any better than our worst criminals? The death penalty is savage and barbaric. It is not justice in any way, shape or form.
on April 30,2014 | 11:55AM
KaneoheSJ wrote:
It is sad when a society can sit and view a premeditated killing. Although it is in the name of justice, killing for the sake of justice is simply wrong. If a family member is killed, one would probably want vengeance in the form of a death sentence. But murder in the name of justice is still just that, murder. Give the killer justice in the form of hard times at a prison for the rest of his life. Hard times should not mean television, soft cot, three well balanced meals and no hard labor. They should be put to work daily at no pay. Paying inmates for their labor is just ridiculous. We pay for the food and health care. We should not have to pay for their labor.
on April 30,2014 | 12:17PM
lajekal wrote:
His victim suffered more...rape, beaten, shot and buried alive
on April 30,2014 | 01:00PM
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