McALESTER — 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.
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.
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.