Oklahoma, already recognized as one of the most backward states in the nation, tried to execute a guy tonight and failed.
Tulsa TV station KJRH said the supposedly lethal drug combination that officials were using to kill 38-year-old Clayton D. Lockett didn’t work and he died of a heart attack.
But not before he “was writing on the gurney and shaking uncontrollably.”
Here’s the “execution” timeline that KJRH reported:
6:23 p.m. – The injection process begins. Lockett has heavy, slow blinks, laid still.
6:29 p.m. – Consistently closed his eyes.
6:30 p.m. – First check of consciousness; still conscious.
6:33 p.m. – Announced Lockett was officially unconscious.
6:34 p.m. – Lockett started to move his mouth.
6:36 p.m. – Lockett began convulsing and mumbling.
6:37 p.m. – Lockett sat up and said, “Something’s wrong.”
6:39 p.m. – Prison officials lowered the blinds.
7:06 p.m. – Lockett dies of massive heart attack.
The second part of a scheduled “doubleheader” execution was postponed, sparing 46-year-old Charles F. Warner, at least for now.
The scene of this certifiable disaster was the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.
State corrections director Robert Patton halted the attempted execution about 20 minutes after the first drug was administered. He said there was a vein failure.
This was almost too predictable. Death-row inmates in both Missouri and Oklahoma have appealed their sentences in recent months, questioning the make-up of the drug “cocktails” being used in executions.
Nevertheless, executions in both states went forward, until tonight.
This is pathetic. Horrifying.
I don’t care what Lockett or any other death-row defendant did — Lockett was convicted of shooting a 19-year-old woman in 1999 and having her buried alive, and Warner raped and killed an 11-month old girl — we as a society do not and should not endorse the application of cruel and unusual punishment under any circumstances.
And we cannot in good conscience engage in torture, intended or unintended. (Former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney disagree with that, of course, but then they are who they are.)
About the only good thing that this debacle will accomplish, in all likelihood, is end death penalty in most states except Texas, where, I fully expect, execution as spectator sport will continue unabated.
Before the scheduled executions in Oklahoma, corrections department spokesman Jerry Massie told reporters that the state had never used the drug cocktail that was to be used in Lockett’s and Warner’s executions. As a result, he said, it was unclear how long the executions might take.
How prescient! Massie didn’t know…
Fact is, none of the Okies involved in the slaughter knew much of anything; they just plowed ahead, believing it was their official duty to put Lockett and Warner to death, however ugly that might turn out to be.
And, God, was it ugly.