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Botched execution: Autopsy portion of Oklahoma inquiry into problematic lethal injection likely to take two to three months

No more Oklahoma lethal injections are likely until end of the investigation into a botched execution. The autopsy portion of the inquiry is expected to take two to three months.
by Rick Green Modified: May 2, 2014 at 10:05 pm •  Published: May 2, 2014

The autopsy portion of the investigation into the botched execution of convicted killer Clayton Lockett will probably take two to three months, and no more lethal injections are likely until the inquiry is complete.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol Capt. George Brown said Lockett’s body has been taken to Texas, where an independent pathologist will be in charge of the autopsy and toxicology tests.

“The autopsy should take eight to 12 weeks,” Brown said.

Lockett writhed, grimaced and tried to move his head after drugs were administered and at a time when he was supposed to be unconscious. The execution was called off, but he ended up dying, apparently of a heart attack 43 minutes after the lethal injection began.

After the problems with Lockett’s execution Tuesday, Gov. Mary Fallin gave a two-week stay to convicted killer Charles Warner, who was supposed to be executed the same night. She has said she would extend the stay if the investigation takes longer.

She has the authority to extend the stay to 60 days. Beyond that, Attorney General Scott Pruitt would have to ask the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals for a longer stay, and he has indicated he would do so if necessary.

In a timeline of the execution released Thursday, state Corrections Department Director Robert Patton recommended that the stay be made indefinite while the investigation continues.

The timeline also disclosed that the normal process of setting intravenous lines in each of the inmate’s arms to carry the deadly drugs was not done. A main line was placed through his groin after medical staff couldn’t find suitable spots in his arms, legs or feet, the timeline said.

A doctor discovered during the execution that the vein in the groin had collapsed and the drugs had leaked out or gone into surrounding tissue or both. The groin was covered by a sheet, so the intravenous site was not directly visible when problems began to occur in the execution.

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by Rick Green
Capitol Bureau Chief
Rick Green is the Capitol Bureau Chief of The Oklahoman. A graduate of Humboldt State University in Arcata, Calif., he worked as news editor for The Associated Press in Oklahoma City before joining The Oklahoman.
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