Oklahoma Inmate Dies Of Heart Attack After Execution Goes Awry

Tuesday, April 29th 2014, 8:17 pm

Editor's note: In the timeline below, we reported "Two IVs could be seen going into Lockett's right and left arm." The IVs actually went underneath a sheet that covered Lockett's body, so we should have reported it that way.

An Oklahoma inmate was scheduled to die Tuesday night, but his death caught the state by surprise. Clayton Lockett didn't die from lethal injection, he died from a massive heart attack nearly 45 minutes after the drugs were first administered.

The execution was stopped midway through when officials said the drugs did not properly make it into Lockett's blood stream.

4/29/2014 Related Story: Oklahoma Men Scheduled For State's First Double Execution In Almost 80 Years

"After conferring with the warden and unknown how much drugs had went into him, it was my decision to stop the execution," said Robert Patton, Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director.

A typical execution takes between 6 and 12 minutes. It was a full 10 minutes before Lockett was declared unconscious. Until that point, he had lain perfectly still on a table in the execution chamber, looking straight up.

Just minutes after the doctor said Lockett was sedated, the inmate started to show signs of struggle; moving his head, body and even talking. The struggle lasted off and on until the correctional workers closed the blinds 16 minutes in.

"There was some concern at that time that the drugs were not having the effect. So the doctor observed the line and determined that the line had blown," said Patton.

When Patton said "the line had blown," he said that meant Lockett's vein had exploded.

Patton couldn't say exactly when the vein failed.

"It was determined he was sedated approximately seven minutes into execution. At that time we began pushing the second and third drugs in the protocol," Patton said.

Media outlets from all over the world descended on McAlester to cover a historic event; what was supposed to be the first double-execution since 1937.

Charles Warner was scheduled to be put to death two hours after Lockett. That execution has now been pushed back 14 days.

Only 12 reporters were allowed to witness the execution and News On 6 Reporter Tess Maune was the only Tulsa television reporter who watched what happened first hand. Here's an exact timeline of what she saw:

6:23 - The curtains opened, showing the execution chamber. Lockett was lying on a table, covered with a white sheet and looking straight up. Two IVs could be seen going into Lockett's right and left arm. A warden, correctional officer and doctor were also in the chamber. The warden asked if Lockett if he had a final statement, he answered, "no." The doctor began administering the sedative.

Lockett lied perfectly still. He never turned his head, but his eyes shifted twice toward the glass windows where his attorneys, media and correctional workers were looking in.

6:29 - His upper body first began shaking. His eyes closed and he adjusted his head.

6:30 - The doctor checked the inmate's chest and right arm and the warden asked, "Mr. Lockett, are you unconscious?" He opened his eyes and replied, "No, I'm not," then closed his eyes again.

6:33 - The doctor made another check of Lockett's chest and arm and confirmed Lockett was unconscious.

6:34 - Lockett's mouth turned, almost as if he was trying to smile.

6:36 - Lockett's body started moving and his head shifting back and forth. He uttered a few things that sounded something like, "Momma turn it off," or "Something's wrong."

6:38 - Lockett's struggle was at its peak, at this point, the inmate raised up and appeared as if he was trying to push himself off the table. At this point, one of his attorneys wiped tears from his eyes.

6:39 - Clinching his teeth, Lockett raised his head and shoulders up and cried out, "Man!" Moments later, the doctor lifted the sheet to check Lockett and the warden said they needed to lower the curtain.

In the viewing room, there were two landline telephones, which were passed off several times between different DOC leaders. There was a clock in the execution chamber, but not in the viewing room, media was not allowed to wear a watch or bring in electronics, so it's unclear how much time passed before the DOC Director, Robert Patton, came in to tell us he had stopped the execution due to a vein failure, saying to chemicals did not make it into Lockett's body.

Before Patton announced the execution was being stopped, Lockett's attorneys, David Autry and Dean Sanderford, who were seated directly in front of News On 6 Reporter Tess Maune said they hoped the doctor was doing everything he could to save their client. They said it was a botched execution, using an unproven method that the state was bound and determined to try. They said a lawsuit is likely.

Once the media was escorted back to the media building, the DOC Director gave a statement saying Lockett had died of what appeared to be a massive heart attack at 7:06, 43 minutes after the execution began.

Lockett and Warner have been at the center of a legal battle over the secrecy surrounding which drugs are used and their origins.

The state changed its execution protocol in March to allow five different potential drug combinations for lethal injection executions.

Tuesday night was the first time the state had used the sedative Midazolam as the first in its three-drug combination. The drug came from a new source, after the former supplier stopped selling to prisons.

Lockett and Warner had sued the state saying its secrecy law, which protects the identity of lethal injection drug suppliers, violated their civil rights. Their attorneys argued there was no evidence to support the claim that the drugs are safe, or to prove they were acquired legally.

The state said it provided attorneys with that information prior to Tuesday.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ordered stays of execution, but Governor Fallin stepped in saying the court did not have jurisdiction. Then, in an unprecedented move, the Supreme Court reversed its original ruling.

Now, Governor Mary Fallin has issued a stay of execution for Charles Warner after Lockett's veins collapsed during his execution.

Governor Fallin's Stay Of Execution Order

"I have asked the Department of Corrections to conduct a full review of Oklahoma's execution procedures to determine what happened and why, during this evening's execution of Clayton Derrell Lockett," she said. "I have issued an executive order delaying the execution of Charles Frederick Warner for 14 days to allow for that review to be completed."

Lockett was convicted killing Stephanie Neiman in 1999. He shot her twice with a shotgun, then ordered an accomplice to bury the teen alive.

Warner was convicted of raping and murdering his roommate's 11-month-old daughter, Adrianna Waller, in 1997. The Oklahoma Attorney General said Warner has never shown remorse for the brutal rape and murder of the innocent baby.

This statement comes from a handwritten letter from Lockett's victim's mother and father.

The first line said, "We are happy this day has finally arrived and justice will finally be served."

Another line from the letter states, "Stephanie (the victim) was highly involved in vacation bible school at church and loved children."