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.
Fallin issued an executive order for state Public Safety Department Commissioner Michael Thompson to lead a review of the Lockett execution and to determine what changes are needed. Fallin’s order specified that the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Science in Dallas perform the autopsy and testing on Lockett’s body.
Attorneys for Lockett and Warner complained of the potential for problems in the drug combination to be used in the execution. States have had trouble getting drugs for lethal injection from pharmaceutical companies reluctant to be involved in executions. Lockett’s was the first planned execution in Oklahoma in which the sedative midazolam was used as the first in a three-drug combination.
Since Warner was to be executed two hours after Lockett, the Corrections Department had already prepared syringes of the deadly drug to be used in the second execution.
On Friday, the Oklahoma attorney general’s office sent a letter to attorneys for Lockett and Warner saying that since the drugs to kill the two men came from the same manufacturers and had the same expiration dates, it would make them available to investigators looking into the botched execution.
The attorneys also were told the attorney general’s office would recommend that they also could have an opportunity to test any drugs that are left over after they are examined in the investigation.
Brown said five uniformed investigators of Highway Patrol Troop Z are involved in the inquiry. The troop handles a wide range of investigations.
Lockett, 38, was convicted of shooting Stephanie Neiman, 19, and watching as two accomplices buried her alive in 1999.
Warner, 46, was convicted of raping and killing his girlfriend’s 11-month-old daughter in 1997.