Execution gone wrong! ‘He’s trying to get off the table!’

Clayton Lockett

FOURTEEN months after Oklahoma botched the execution of convicted murderer Clayton Lockett, grim new details of the blood-soaked 43-minute ordeal have emerged.

Lockett’s agonising death during what should have been a routine execution sparked outrage last year, drawing comment from the US President himself. But a journalist who was in the viewing room and witnessed the event has helped piece together the 38-year-old’s final moments, including 12 panicked attempts to find a vein to inject the lethal cocktail.
Lockett, 38, was sentenced to death in 2000 for his role in the kidnapping and rape of 19-year-old Stephanie Neiman, who he later shot and buried alive after she told Lockett, then aged 20, she would go to police.
His execution was scheduled for April 29, 2014, but went awry when a relatively-untested concoction of drugs failed to immediately end his life.
In new details revealed by The Atlantic, Lockett was jabbed more than a dozen times, left with a tennis ball-sized lump in his groin where a drip pumped fluids into tissue instead of his vein, and bled profusely.
An autopsy found Lockett was awake when he was supposed to be sedated and struggled so violently against his restraints that he was left with blunt-impact injuries.
Those tasked with carrying out the execution, including a paramedic paid $US600 to carry out two executions in one night, were left “soaked in blood”, ordered to do things they should not have been doing and were told shortly before Lockett died to stop the execution and consider reviving him.
Oklahoma was trialling a new three-drug method when Lockett was executed. The first drug used was midazolam, a sedative otherwise used in the emergency management of seizures. The second drug was vecuronium bromide, a paralytic. The third drug was potassium chloride, designed to stop the heart.
After several failed attempts to locate a vein by the paramedic, a doctor — who was supposed to be overseeing the execution and not playing an active role — was forced to step in. He attempted to put the IV in Lockett’s jugular before settling on the femoral vein in his groin.
Reporter Katie Fretland, who was in a room watching the execution with 10 other journalists, told The Atlantic Lockett blinked, licked his lips, looked confused, turned his head to the witnesses then closed his eyes, but was not unconscious.
The needle had slipped out, but those administering the second and third lot of drugs went ahead unaware.
Lockett writhed then spoke the word “Man”. The prison’s warden noticed blood and clear liquid pooling around Lockett’s groin and ordered the blinds to the witness room be closed.
When the paramedic and a doctor went back into the room, there was so much blood coming from Lockett’s groin “that it soaked (the doctor’s) jacket”. At one point the paramedic overheard a witness exclaim of Lockett: “He’s trying to get off the table!”, according to the report.
Amid the chaos, the execution was called off. Doctors told the warden they could try resuscitating Lockett but he would need to be transferred to an emergency room. He died on the bed in agony 10 minutes later.
Just nine months after Lockett’s botched execution, Oklahoma put to death another prisoner in similarly distressing scenes. Charles Warner, a child rapist and murderer, cried out from the death chamber “My body is on fire” as his lethal injection was administered. In his final statement, Warner said the drugs “felt like acid” in his veins.
New details of Lockett’s death look certain to impact a Supreme Court hearing in the US aimed at determining whether lethal injection is unconstitutional. If that is the case, Oklahoma would resort to use of the electric chair as an alternative method of execution. A decision is expected later this month.

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