Director of Oklahoma Department of Corrections recommends a stay on executions

MCALESTER, Okla. -- The director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections has recommended that Gov. Mary Fallin (R) ask a court to put all executions in the state on hold indefinitely after the bungled execution of an inmate here.

In a letter to Fallin, Robert Patton recommends a complete review and possible revision of Oklahoma's execution protocols. Patton said all of the decisions surrounding executions lie with the warden at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary here.

"Those decisions should rest with upper management and ultimately on the Director of Corrections," he wrote.

Because those new protocols will take time, Patton recommended that Fallin ask a court of criminal appeals to indefinitely stay all executions.

"It will take several days or possibly a few weeks to refine the new protocols. Once written, staff will require extensive training and understanding of new protocols before an execution could be scheduled," he wrote.

Fallin Wednesday ordered an internal review of the execution of Clayton Lockett. Lockett died of an apparent heart attack after his planned execution by lethal injection went bad Tuesday night.

Fallin's review will be led by the state's public safety commissioner, but Patton believes the report will be "perceived as more credible" if conducted by an outside entity.

The letter also discloses more information about the timeline leading up to Lockett's death. Lockett was convicted of shooting a teenager and ordering an accomplice to bury her alive.

At 5:06 a.m. Tuesday, a correctional emergency response team went to Lockett's cell to escort him for mandatory X-rays prior to execution. Lockett refused to be restrained. About 40 minutes later, Lockett was tased and taken to a medical room, where it was discovered that he had a self-inflicted laceration to his right arm. He was examined, and a doctor decided he did not need stitches.

Lockett was then checked on every 15 minutes and refused food each time it was offered.

At 6:22 p.m., Lockett was placed and restrained on the execution table. A phlebotomist could not locate a viable vein in which to insert an IV on both of Lockett's arms, legs or feet. A doctor examined his neck, and the decision was made to insert the IV into Lockett's groin.

At 6:23 p.m., the drug Midazolam was administered intravenously. Seven minutes later, a doctor said Lockett was still conscious. Three minutes later Lockett was unconscious, and vecruronium bromide and potassium chloride were administered.

At 6:42 p.m., the shades were lowered. Witnesses said Lockett was conscious and licking his lips and began to seize.

According to Patton's timeline, the doctor reported that the vein where Lockett's IV was inserted collapsed, and the drugs either dripped out or were absorbed by his tissues, or possibly both.

"The director then asked the following question," the timeline reads. "Have enough drugs been administered to cause death?' The doctor responded, 'No,' The director asked, 'Is there another vein available, and, if so, are there enough drugs remaining?' The doctor answered 'no' to both questions."

The doctor again said not enough drugs were administered to cause Lockett's death, and that Lockett still had a faint heartbeat and was unconscious.

The director called off the execution, and Lockett was pronounced dead 10 minutes later.

Another inmate, Charles Warner, was supposed to be executed after Lockett on Tuesday. But after Lockett's botched execution, Fallin said that Warner’s execution will be delayed until after the review is completed.

Katie Zezima covers the White House for Post Politics and The Fix.
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