Witnesses report that Clayton Lockett, after being declared
unconscious by a doctor, tried to get up, gasped and called out “oh, man.” At
7:06pm, 43 minutes after the procedure began, Mr. Lockett finally succumbed to a
heart attack. In the previous 19 executions at the prison, it took no longer
than 12 minutes before the prisoner was declared dead.
The deceased was convicted in 2000 of the kidnapping, rape
and murder of 19-year old Stephanie Neiman and sentenced to death by lethal
injection, the most commonly used form of execution in the US.
Read: Would you witness an execution?
The procedure entails injecting the prisoner with a sedative
to render them unconscious, then another chemical to stop the breathing, and
potassium chloride, which stops the heart.
Problems arose when a vein in the groin was chosen as the
site of injection. Due to the fact that there were several witnesses present, a
cloth was placed to obscure the groin area. This presented the execution staff
from realising that the vein had collapsed and that most of the chemicals had
gone into the surrounding tissue or leaked out altogether. As a result, Lockett
did not receive the dose necessary to complete the procedure.
Read: 10 facts about lethal injection
The execution was halted after 20 minutes when it was
realised that Lockett was not fully unconscious. He was able to raise his head
and say “something’s wrong” despite having been declared unconscious by a
At this point prison director Robert Patton asked the doctor
leading the execution whether the inmate had received enough drugs to kill him,
to which the doctor said no. The doctor then told Patton that there were not
enough drugs remaining to kill him if they were to use another injection site.
At this point there was nothing the staff could do to end the execution procedure
except to see if Lockett would recover from the ill-effects of what dose he had
This situation continued for another 20 minutes before the
stress on Lockett’s body caused him to suffer a fatal heart attack. He was 38
Read: US state approaching record number of executions
A second execution was scheduled to take place immediately
after Lockett’s, but this was delayed by following its botched predecessor.
Charles Warner, who was to be executed, received a two week stay of execution
while the process was reviewed. The Governor of Oklahoma, Mary Fallin,
immediately ordered a review into the state’s execution procedures, though she
has long been a supporter of capital punishment.
32 of the 50 states in America currently allow executions and
there are over 3000 inmates currently on death row. Other methods used include
electrocution, gas chamber, hanging and firing squad.
Capital punishment has been illegal in South Africa since 1995, though a study last year suggested that there could be strong support for its reinstatement.
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Sources: New York Times/News24/Oklahoma Department of Corrections/