Drugs in Oklahoma execution leaked from IV

2014-05-02 16:12
This June 29, 2011 file photo provided by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections shows Clayton Lockett. Oklahoma prison officials halted the execution of Lockett, after the delivery of a new three-drug combination failed to go as planned. (AP Photo/O

This June 29, 2011 file photo provided by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections shows Clayton Lockett. Oklahoma prison officials halted the execution of Lockett, after the delivery of a new three-drug combination failed to go as planned. (AP Photo/O

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Oklahoma City - Some of the three drugs used in a botched Oklahoma execution this week never made it into the death row inmate's system because a vein in his groin that collapsed wasn't noticed until 21 minutes after the execution started, the state's prisons chief said in a report urging changes to the state's execution procedures.

Medical officials tried for nearly an hour to find a vein in Clayton Lockett's arms, legs and neck before finally inserting an IV into his groin, prisons director Robert Patton wrote in a letter to the governor detailing Lockett's last day.

By the time a doctor lifted a sheet covering the inmate and noticed the line had become dislodged from the vein, all of the execution drugs had already been injected and there wasn't another suitable vein, the report noted.

"The drugs had either absorbed into tissue, leaked out or both," Patton wrote. "The director asked the following question, 'Have enough drugs been administered to cause death?' The doctor responded, 'No.'"

At that time, Patton halted the Tuesday night execution, but Lockett was pronounced dead of a heart attack 10 minutes later.

'Invasive and painful method'

Oklahoma's execution rules call for medical personnel to immediately give emergency aid if a stay is granted while the lethal drugs are being administered, but it's not clear if that happened. The report does not say what occurred from when Patton called off the execution at 18:56 to Lockett being pronounced dead at 19:06.

The report also indicated that on his last morning, Lockett fought with guards who attempted to remove him from his cell and was shocked with a stun gun. After being taken to a prison infirmary, a self-inflicted cut was found on Lockett's arm that was determined not to require stitches. The report also notes that Lockett refused food at breakfast and lunch.

Madeline Cohen, an attorney for inmate Charles Warner, who had been scheduled to be executed two hours after Lockett, said Oklahoma was revealing information about the events "in a chaotic manner".

"As the Oklahoma Department of Corrections dribbles out piecemeal information about Clayton Lockett's botched execution, they have revealed that Mr. Lockett was killed using an invasive and painful method — an IV line in his groin," Cohen said in a statement. "Placing such a femoral IV line requires highly specialized medical training and expertise."

Inserting IVs into the groin area — the upper thigh or pelvic region — is often done for trauma patients and in experienced hands can be straightforward, but injecting in the femoral vein can be tricky because it's not as visible as arm veins and lies next to the femoral artery, sai'd Dr. Jonathan Weisbuch, a physician in Phoenix.

'Botched execution' investigation

Warner's execution was initially rescheduled for 13 May. Patton called on Thursday for an indefinite stay, something Cohen said she agreed was necessary.

Gov. Mary Fallin, who has ordered one of her Cabinet members to investigate the botched execution, said on Thursday she was willing to issue a 60-day stay for Warner, the longest allowed under state law, if needed to complete the inquiry.

"If it does require more time, then yes, I think they should take more time," Fallin said Thursday. "We need to get it right."

If 60 days isn't adequate, Oklahoma's attorney general said he would request an additional stay from the courts to ensure no executions are carried out until the review is complete.

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