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Execution failure in Oklahoma: Clayton Lockett dies of heart attack after vein explodes

Oklahoma Corrections Department officials stopped the execution of Clayton Derrell Lockett just before 6:30 p.m. Tuesday after a botched lethal injection that caused Lockett’s body to violently convulse on the table. He died of a heart attack about 40 minutes later.
by Graham Lee Brewer Modified: April 30, 2014 at 10:07 am •  Published: April 29, 2014

State Corrections Department officials stopped the execution of convicted killer Clayton Derrell Lockett on Tuesday after a botched lethal injection that caused Lockett’s body to violently convulse. He died of a heart attack about 40 minutes later.

The apparent failure of the execution is likely to fuel more debate about the new three-drug cocktail used, and the ability of states to administer lethal injections that meet the U.S. Constitution’s requirement that the punishment be neither cruel nor unusual.

After Lockett began convulsing, officials closed the curtains to the death chamber and Corrections Department Director Robert Patton informed witnesses he was halting the execution. Witnesses were then escorted out of the room, left wondering whether Lockett had actually been put to death.

>>Read: Gov. Fallin issues stay of execution, orders evaluation of lethal dosage protocol

>>Read: ACLU seeks moratorium after botched execution

>>Read: Execution drugs harm breathing and heart function

>>Read: Glance: Execution drug secrecy in 5 states

The lethal injection was one of two set for Tuesday evening. Charles Frederick Warner was scheduled to be executed at 8 p.m., but after the first procedure, Gov. Mary Fallin postponed Warner’s execution for 14 days to determine what happened.

Lockett’s death

The execution, which was supposed to start at 6, began at 6:23 p.m. The three-drug cocktail was then administered to Lockett, who had no last words. Lockett was declared unconscious 10 minutes into the process but he mumbled at three separate moments. The first two were inaudible, however the third time he said the word “man.”

Sixteen minutes into the procedure, Lockett grimaced and tensed his body several times over a three-minute period, his head rising from the gurney and his feet kicking several times. A medical professional lifted the sheet covering Lockett’s body to check the vein in his right arm just before officials closed the curtains in the execution chamber and shielded witnesses from what was happening.

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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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Oklahoma’s execution protocol

- 50 mg/10 ml midazolam in each arm

- saline flush

- 20 mg/20cc vecuronium bromide in each arm

- saline flush

- Potassium chloride 100 meq/50cc in each arm

“Prior to the administration of vecuronium bromide or a comparable non-depolarizing neuromuscular blocking agent, the physician present in the Execution Room will monitor the condemned offender’s level of consciousness through whatever means the physician believes are appropriate, to ensure that the condemned is sufficiently unconscious prior to the administration of the blocking agent. The physician may monitor the condemned offender with an EKG monitor and/or stethoscope. The blocking agent will NOT be administered until at least 5 minutes after the beginning of the administration of the midazolam.”

Source: Department of Corrections protocol manual

Clayton Derrell Lockett

Age: 38

Age at time of crime: 23

Convicted: Oct. 5, 2000, in Noble County of first-degree murder

Case background: Lockett was convicted in the murder of Stephanie Neiman, 19, of Perry. Neiman’s friend had asked Neiman to drive to a friend’s house to ask if he would like to attend a party. Neiman waited in the truck while the third victim went into the house. Once inside, the third victim found her friend, Bobby Bornt, severely beaten and bound. The third victim was attacked by Clayton Lockett before being forced to coax Neiman inside the home. All three were beaten before Lockett and his accomplices, Alfonzo Lockett and Shawn Mathis, loaded the three victims into two pickups and drove them to a rural Kay County road. Lockett ordered Mathis to dig a grave while Neiman watched. He took Neiman at gunpoint to a ditch and shot her with a shotgun. When the shotgun jammed, he returned to the truck to fix it and then shot Neiman a second time as she pleaded for mercy. While Neiman was still alive, Lockett ordered his accomplice to bury her. He later described to investigators how Stephanie was still alive and choking on the dirt as they buried her alive.

Charles Frederick Warner

Age: 46

Age at time of crime: 30

Convicted: July 23, 2000, in Oklahoma County of first-degree murder

Case background: Warner was convicted in the rape and murder of his roommate’s 11-month-old daughter, Adrianna Waller, on Aug. 22, 1987. Adrianna’s mother, Shonda Waller, had left her daughter and three other children with Warner. When she returned, she found Adrianna unresponsive. The girl was pronounced dead at a hospital with multiple serious injuries. Warner’s son testified that he saw his father violently shake Adrianna because he didn’t like her crying.


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