Both the states of Oklahoma and Florida are preparing for executions following delays.
With a renovated death chamber, new training and a higher dose of drugs, corrections officials in Oklahoma were ready Thursday to carry out the first execution there in nine months, after the botched, prolonged killing of Clayton D. Lockett which forced the state to suspend lethal injections and make changes to its procedure, the New York Times reported.
The gruesome details of Lockett’s execution led to new questions, in Oklahoma and across the country, about the reliability of lethal injection as an ethical and humane procedure. New drug combinations were also questioned as once-preferred drugs became scarce.
In the end, federal courts cleared the way for Oklahoma to resume executions by lethal injection, using a sedative that some medical experts say may not consistently put prisoners in a deep coma to avoid suffering.
Barring a last-minute reprieve from the Supreme Court, Charles F. Warner will be put to death at 6 p.m. local time at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. Warner was convicted for the murder and sexual assault of an 11-month-old girl in 1997.
Florida also has a Thursday execution planned for Johnny Shane Kennedy, 42, who was condemned for the murder of a man during a home invasion in 1993, using the same three-drug combination that was challenged without success, by the Oklahoma prisoners’ lawyers.
Warner’s execution was originally scheduled for April 29, 2014, two hours after Lockett. But his execution was delayed after the problems that occurred during Lockett’s execution. Multiple accounts say Lockett seemed to wake and writher in pain after a doctor failed to place the intravenous line in a vein, causing the sedative, then a paralyzing agent and a caustic heart-stopping drug, to diffuse in his groin.
Lockett finally died after 43 minutes – a procedure that is expected to take no more than 10 to 15 minutes and after a doctor seeking to reinsert the needle punctured an artery resulting in what the prison warden later said was “a bloody mess.”