Botched Execution Timeline Raises Questions


Letha injection
Credit: Ken Piorkowski/wikimedia

timeline of Oklahoma's botched execution (covered yesterday) was released today by Robert Patton, director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. The timeline revealed that Clayton Lockett was Tasered and cut his own arm hours before he was executed. The timeline also revealed that the lethal injection IV was inserted into Lockett's groin area. The insertion area was "covered with a sheet" before the curtain was lifted to prevent witnesses from viewing his groin. Prior to inserting the IV, staff examined both of Lockett's arms, legs, feet, and his neck and concluded that "no viable point of entry" was located.

It seems highly suspicious that a man, who was described by his lawyer as being healthy and a non-drug user, would have no "viable point of entry" for the IV besides his groin.

A lot of information was left out of the timeline, which raises questions about whether or not it's fully transparent. For example, it fails to mention Lockett thrashing violently and attempting to speak, despite having been declared unconscious. It also does not include any information about what happened between 6:56 p.m., when the director of the Oklahoma DOC called off the execution, and 7:06 p.m., when Lockett was pronounced dead. Finally, little information was included about what happened after the curtain was lowered at 6:42 p.m. The timeline states that the doctor checked the IV at 6:42 p.m. (the first time it was checked since Lockett was declared unconscious at 6:33 p.m.) and found "the blood vein had collapsed, and the drugs had either absorbed into tissue, leaked out or both." However, there's no information about what happened between 6:44 p.m. and 6:56 p.m., besides details of a phone conversation between the warden and the director, in which the warden admits that not enough drugs had been administered to cause death.

In the document, Patton also recommended that the Court of Criminal Appeals issue an indefinite stay of executions in the state.