Oklahoma bungled drugs used in executions -grand jury report
By Jon Herskovitz and Heide Brandes
May 19 (Reuters) — An Oklahoma grand jury looking into the state’s troubled executions said in a report released on Thursday that jail staff did not verify what drugs they were using for lethal injections and were unaware when the wrong drugs were administered.
The report, running more than 100 pages from a multi-county grand jury, offered a stinging rebuke of state officials, especially those in the Department of Corrections, for their handling of executions, which are currently on hold in Oklahoma due to the troubles in the death chamber.
«Today, I regret to advise the citizens of Oklahoma that the Department of Corrections failed to do its job,» Attorney General Scott Pruitt said in a statement.
Oklahoma drew brindes international condemnation following a troubled execution in 2014 in which medical staff did not properly place an intravenous line on a convicted murderer, Clayton Lockett.
The grand jury that released Thursday’s report was tasked with looking into the state’s troubled executions.
«The Director of the Department of Corrections orally modified execution protocol without authority,» the report said.
«The pharmacist ordered the wrong execution drug,» it said.
In the 2014 instance, the execution was halted after the needle popped out, spewing lethal injection chemicals in the death chamber. Lockett, seen twisting on the gurney, died about 45 minutes after the procedure began due to chemicals built up in his tissue.
The state revised its protocols, but the two planned executions that followed last year were flawed, with the wrong chemicals being added to the lethal injection mix.
One of the executions was carried out, and convicted murderer Charles Warner said in his final words: «My body is on fire.» The other execution, of Richard Glossip, was halted just minutes before the planned time after the mistake was discovered.
Three top officials who were called by the grand jury stepped down shortly after testifying: Anita Trammell, warden of the Oklahoma State Penitentiary; Robert Patton, director of the Department of Corrections; and Steve Mullins, general counsel to Governor Mary Fallin.
«Oklahomans should carefully consider the grand jury’s conclusions and ask themselves whether they should trust their state with the death penalty,» said Marc Hyden, national coordinator of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty.
«Considering the state’s history of botched executions and wrongful convictions, Oklahoma’s track record suggests that it hasn’t adequately earned the people’s trust,» said Hyden, whose conservative group is pushing for an end to capital punishment.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas, and Heide Brandes in Oklahoma City; Editing by Leslie Adler)