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Oklahoma executes man with new drug combination

Oklahoma officials executed convicted murderer John David Duty on Thursday using a drug combination that includes a sedative commonly used to euthanize animals.
By SEAN MURPHY Modified: December 17, 2010 at 8:31 am •  Published: December 17, 2010

— Oklahoma officials executed a convicted murderer Thursday using a drug combination that includes a sedative commonly used to euthanize animals, after a nationwide shortage of a key ingredient forced the state to tinker with the usual formula.

John David Duty was pronounced dead at 6:18 p.m. at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. The 58-year-old, who was sentenced to die for strangling his cellmate nearly a decade ago, is believed to be the first person in the U.S. whose execution included the use of pentobarbital.

Strapped to a gurney and wearing an eye patch over his right eye, the heavyset Duty apologized to the family of his victim.

“I hope one day you'll be able to forgive me, not for my sake, but for your own,” Duty said. “Thank you, Lord Jesus. I'm ready to go home.”

He also acknowledged three of his attorneys and his brother and sister-in-law, all of whom witnessed the execution from an adjacent room. “You've all been a blessing,” he told them.

The lethal drugs began to flow at 6:12 p.m., and Duty's breathing became labored one minute later. At 6:15 p.m., he appeared to stop breathing, and the color began to drain from his face.

“There didn't appear to be any issues with the new drug,” Oklahoma Department of Corrections spokesman Jerry Massie said afterward.

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