Autopsy Contradicts the Official Story
TULSA (CN) - Oklahoma prison officials involved in the botched execution of Clayton Lockett failed several times to place an intravenous line of lethal drugs into his body though he had healthy veins, a preliminary autopsy concluded.
The findings by Dr. Joseph Cohen, an independent forensic pathologist, dispute claims by prison officials Lockett's veins were difficult to locate.
Lockett died on April 29 thirty minutes after he was injected with misazolam, one of three controversially sourced execution drugs.
Lockett was convicted in 2000 of the rape and murder of Stephanie Neiman, 19. He was convicted of shooting her with a sawed-off shotgun and watching two accomplices bury her alive.
Witnesses to his execution said Lockett appeared to writhe in agony, clenched his teeth and strained to lift his head off a pillow after the remaining drugs were administered. A curtain separating the death chamber from witnesses was closed and Lockett died of a heart attack 15 minutes later, prison officials said.
Lockett's attorney, David Autry, said the execution was "totally botched" and "a horrible thing to witness."
Inmates in other states, including Texas and Missouri , have since sought to stop their executions by lethal injection due to Lockett's death.
Prison officials nationwide have been unable to obtain previously available execution drugs such as pentobarbital due to anti-death penalty advocates successfully pressuring large drug manufacturers to stop their manufacturing, resulting in prison officials asking smaller, compounding pharmacies to produce substitutes.
Cohen's autopsy report, released on June 12 by Lockett's attorneys, disputes Oklahoma prison officials' reports of Lockett's veins "blowing out" during the execution.
Cohen's report cites the "excellent integrity and peripheral and deep veins" for the purpose of an IV insertion. After several failed attempts at finding a vein in his arms, prison officials tried to tap veins near Lockett's groin in both of his legs, the report states.
Cohen was unable to find "any significant underlying natural disease" nor a "cardiac condition" that played a role in his death by heart attack.
Cohen noted that the state's autopsy had taken place before May 14, resulting in the heart and parts of the neck being removed by Dallas County Medical Examiner.
Oklahoma officials have yet to release the results of that autopsy, which is part of an ongoing investigation ordered by Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin after Lockett's death.
Charles Warner was scheduled to be executed two hours after Lockett. He was convicted in 1999 of the rape and murder of Adrianna Waller, the 11-month-old daughter of his girlfriend. Fallin has stayed his execution for 6 months.