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Oklahoma changes lethal injection procedure

After two March executions were postponed due to a lack of the necessary lethal injection drugs, a brief filed Monday in Oklahoma County District Court shows the state Corrections Department has amended execution procedure to allow for the use of new lethal drugs.
by Graham Lee Brewer Published: March 24, 2014

Short of the chemicals it normally uses to execute people, Oklahoma wants to use new lethal drug combinations, including one that took 25 minutes to kill a man in Ohio, according to a legal brief filed Monday.

The brief was filed by attorneys for two men on Oklahoma’s death row who are suing the state in an attempt to know the source of the state’s lethal drugs. It contains documents from the state Corrections Department, including an updated execution procedure and a March 21-dated email from the agency’s general counsel advising the attorneys of the changes.

The change to protocol comes amid an ongoing search by the agency to find two of the three drugs in the state’s three-drug execution mixture — pentobarbital, a barbiturate used to render the condemned person unconscious, and vecuronium bromide, a drug that relaxes the muscles.

Clayton Lockett, 38, who killed a 19-year-old woman, and Charles Warner, 46, who raped and killed an 11-month-old child, asked the court to stay their executions so their case could be heard. In a March 17 objection to that request, Assistant Attorney General Seth Branham revealed the state Corrections Department has been having trouble obtaining the two drugs.

The updated procedure allows for the use of a single dose of pentobarbital, a new three drug cocktail using midazolam and hydromorphone, or a third new option that allows the state to replace another scarce drug, vecuronium bromide, with a comparable drug.

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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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