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Botched lethal injection in Oklahoma: Independent autopsy finds IV was not set properly

An independent autopsy on Clayton Lockett, who died in a botched execution in Oklahoma, shows those performing the lethal injection failed to set a properly functioning intravenous line in his groin.
by Rick Green and Graham Lee Brewer Modified: June 13, 2014 at 11:26 pm •  Published: June 13, 2014

The Corrections Department has said Lockett’s vein failed while the lethal drugs were being administered, causing them to stop his execution midway.

McCracken said no information on who inserted the IV has been released. She said it’s important to know whether or not that person had the medical training to administer that procedure.

“That’s not just a technical concern,” McCracken said. “The setting of a central line or a femoral IV is much more difficult. It’s a much more invasive and complicated procedure, and not just any medical person has the qualifications to do it.”

A spokesman Corrections Department declined to comment on the report or the qualifications of the medical professional who inserted the IV until the state’s investigation into the execution is complete.

Through an April 30 executive order, Gov. Mary Fallin appointed Michael Thompson, commissioner of the state Public Safety Department, to lead the investigation into what went wrong during Lockett’s execution.

Alex Weintz, spokesman for Fallin, said the state’s investigation is ongoing, and the preliminary report released Friday is unofficial.

“It appears to re-enforce what we’ve known all along, which was there were problems administering the IV,” Weintz 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.

Attorneys for Lockett 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, 38, was convicted of shooting Stephanie Neiman, 19, and watching as two accomplices buried her alive in 1999.

His execution was supposed to the first of two conducted on the same day. The state called off the second execution, that of Charles Frederick Warner, 46, and has not held any more lethal injections pending the investigation into what went wrong.

Warner’s execution is now scheduled for Nov. 13.

Previously published stories about the botched execution of Clayton Darnell Lockett:

>>Read: Oklahoma GOP lawmaker eyes firing squad option (Published June 10, 2014)

>>Read: Executed inmate's body returned to Oklahoma without all organs (Published June 10, 2014)

>>Read: Oklahoma corrections board takes no action on execution probe (Published June 5, 2014)

>>Read: Botched execution: Autopsy portion of Oklahoma inquiry into problematic lethal injection likely to take two to three months (Published May 2, 2014)

>>Read: Oklahoma Corrections Department timeline from Clayton Lockett execution (Published May 1, 2014)

>>Read: Convicted murderer was hit with Taser leading up to execution, report shows (Published May 1, 2014)

>>Read: Execution failure in Oklahoma: Clayton Lockett dies of heart attack after vein explodes (Published April 29, 2014)

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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by Graham Lee Brewer
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Graham Lee Brewer began his career as a journalist covering Oklahoma's vibrant music scene in 2006. After working as a public radio reporter for KGOU and then Oklahoma Watch, where he covered areas such as immigration and drug addiction, he went...
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