Oklahoma Injected Lethal Drugs Into Its Death-Row Convicts”“After They Were Executed

And officials joked about trading drugs with Texas in exchange for college football tickets.

A view of the death chamber from the witness room at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio. 
National Journal
Dustin Volz
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Dustin Volz
March 18, 2014, 12:14 p.m.

The state of Ok­lahoma in­jec­ted ex­ecuted con­victs with leth­al drugs for “dis­pos­al pur­poses,” newly pub­lished state re­cords show.

The macabre prac­tice, first re­por­ted Tues­day by The Col­or­ado In­de­pend­ent, could tamper with post­mortem tox­ic­o­logy res­ults in a way that ob­scures from pub­lic know­ledge the amount of pain en­dured dur­ing ex­e­cu­tion, a rev­el­a­tion that calls in­to ques­tion the state’s meth­ods for ad­min­is­ter­ing cap­it­al pun­ish­ment at a time when leth­al-in­jec­tion pro­to­cols na­tion­wide are draw­ing re­newed scru­tiny.

“Con­victs ex­ecuted in Ok­lahoma have in some cases died from over­doses of pento­bar­bit­al or so­di­um thi­opent­al, the an­es­thet­ic, rather than the second and third in­jec­tions in the three-drug cock­tail, ac­cord­ing to doc­u­ments ob­tained by The In­de­pend­ent,” re­port­er Katie Fret­land writes. “Re­cords show ex­e­cu­tion­ers then in­jec­ted the re­main­ing two drugs in­to con­victs’ dead bod­ies for what forms turned over in re­sponse to an open-re­cords re­quest refer to as ‘dis­pos­al pur­poses.’ “

State pris­on of­fi­cials de­fen­ded the prac­tice, telling The In­de­pend­ent that it fol­lows ap­pro­pri­ate pro­tocol.

Fret­land’s re­port­ing also ex­am­ines email ex­changes among Ok­lahoma of­fi­cials jok­ing about help­ing Texas ob­tain cer­tain leth­al drugs in ex­change for col­lege foot­ball tick­ets — or for the Texas Long­horns throw­ing games against the Ok­lahoma Soon­ers.

“Looks like they waited un­til the last minute and now need help from those they re­fused to help earli­er,” an of­fi­cial wrote in Janu­ary 2011. “So, I pro­pose we help if TX prom­ises to take a dive in the OU-TX game for the next 4 years.”

Sep­ar­ately, the Ok­lahoma Court of Crim­in­al Ap­peals an­nounced Tues­day it would push back two im­min­ent ex­e­cu­tions, after the state an­nounced earli­er this week it did not pos­sess the drugs ne­ces­sary to carry out the death sen­tences. As­sist­ant At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Seth Bran­ham told the Ap­peals Court the state had un­der­gone “noth­ing short of a Her­culean ef­fort” to carry out the ex­e­cu­tions of Clayton Lock­et, sched­uled for March 20, and Charles Warner, sched­uled for March 27.

Warner and Lock­ett’s ex­e­cu­tions have been pushed back to April 22 and 29, re­spect­ively.

“We hope that no ex­e­cu­tion will go for­ward un­til we are able to ob­tain full in­form­a­tion about how Ok­lahoma in­tends to con­duct those ex­e­cu­tions, in­clud­ing the source of its ex­e­cu­tion drugs,” Madeline Co­hen, an at­tor­ney for Warner, said in a state­ment.

Sev­er­al states around the coun­try are run­ning out of the drugs they have re­lied on for dec­ades to carry out death sen­tences, as European man­u­fac­tur­ers are mak­ing it in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to pro­cure such chem­ic­als if they are in­ten­ded for a leth­al in­jec­tion.

In re­sponse to the grow­ing dif­fi­culties, some states have re­cently con­sidered a re­turn to older meth­ods of ex­e­cu­tion gen­er­ally con­sidered less hu­mane. Vir­gin­ia weighed a bill in Janu­ary that would have man­dated elec­tro­cu­tion be used to per­form an ex­e­cu­tion if a leth­al in­jec­tion could not oc­cur. The meas­ure passed the state’s lower cham­ber be­fore dy­ing in the Sen­ate.

Law­makers in Wyom­ing and Mis­souri have also flir­ted with a re­turn to the fir­ing squads.

To learn more about the wide-reach­ing im­plic­a­tions of states con­front­ing leth­al-in­jec­tion drug short­ages, read Na­tion­al Journ­al‘s earli­er cov­er­age here.

What We're Following See More »
JUST AS SENATE VOTES ITS DISAPPROVAL
Trump Backtracks on Putin's "Incredible Offer"
1 days ago
THE LATEST
ARMS CONTROL, SYRIA WERE DISCUSSED
Russians Refer to "Verbal Agreements" with Trump
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"Two days after President Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, Russian officials offered a string of assertions about what the two leaders had achieved. 'Important verbal agreements' were reached at the Helsinki meeting, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, told reporters in Moscow Wednesday, including preservation of the New Start and INF agreements," and cooperation in Syria.

Source:
WAS "GRUDGINGLY" CONVINCED
Trump Was Shown Proof of Russian Interference Before Inauguration
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald J. Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 American election. The evidence included texts and emails from Russian military officers and information gleaned from a top-secret source close to Mr. Putin, who had described to the C.I.A. how the Kremlin decided to execute its campaign of hacking and disinformation. Mr. Trump sounded grudgingly convinced, according to several people who attended the intelligence briefing. But ever since, Mr. Trump has tried to cloud the very clear findings that he received on Jan. 6, 2017, which his own intelligence leaders have unanimously endorsed."

TAKE THAT, HATERS
Trump: High IQ People Loved the Putin Meeting
3 days ago
THE LATEST
"POLICY DIFFERENCES DON'T MATTER"
Comey Says to Vote Democratic This Fall
3 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login