Oklahoma bungled drugs used in executions: grand jury report

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Oklahoma Not So OK When It Comes to Executions

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, 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.

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"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 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 added.

In the 2014 instance, the execution was halted after the needle popped out, spewing chemicals in the death chamber. Lockett, seen twisting on the gurney, was pronounced dead 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 mix.

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Oklahoma bungled drugs used in executions: grand jury report
Dave Atwood, left, and Sophia Malik, right, both of Houston, hold photos of Napoleon Beazley as they protest his execution Tuesday, May 28, 2002, in Huntsville, Texas. Beazley, 25, was executed by lethal injection for the 1994 carjacking murder of 63-year-old John E. Luttig of Tyler, Texas. It was the 14th execution this year in Texas. (AP Photo/Brett Coomer)
Rena, left, and Ireland Beazley hold a photo of their son Napoleon Beazley at their home in Grapeland, Texas, Friday, May 31, 2002. Napoleon Beazley's death sentence for killing the father of a federal judge during a 1994 carjacking at age 17 stirred national debate over capital punishment for youths. (AP Photo/Donna McWilliam)
Rena Beazley, left, and her husband, Ireland, from Grapeland, Texas, are shown in the audience during a news conference Thursday, May 23, 2002, in Austin, Texas. The two, parents of Texas death row inmate Napoleon Beazley, and clergy pleaded for his sentence to be commuted to life in prison. He is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection Tuesday. (AP Photo/Harry Cabluck)

Mugshot of Cameron Todd Willingham

(Photo credit: Texas Department of Criminal Justice)

Judy Cavnar, of Ardmore, Okla., a cousin of executed Texas prison inmate Cameron Todd Willingham, displays a picture of him during a news conference Tuesday, May 2, 2006, in Austin, Texas. The case of a Willingham, who maintained his innocence until the end but was executed after he was convicted of an arson murder, is going before a new state commission required to look into allegations of forensic misconduct. (AP Photo/Harry Cabluck)
Eugenia Willingham of Ardmore, Okla., right, wipes a tear as she speaks during a news conference Tuesday, May 2, 2006, in Austin, Texas. Willingham and other relatives of Cameron Todd Willingham recounted the final moments of Willingham's life and their unsuccessful attempts to block his execution. The New York-based Innocence Project submitted the case to the Texas Forensic Science Commission on Tuesday and also asked the panel to review arson convictions statewide. In the background, from left are Willingham's cousins, Pat Cox, and Judy Cavnar. Mrs. Willingham is his stepmother. (AP Photo/Harry Cabluck)
Death row inmate Troy Davis appears in this undated file photo provided by the Georgia Department of Corrections. (Georgia Department of Corrections/MCT via Getty Images)
Demonstrators gather in front of the White House in Washington as they hold a vigil before the scheduled execution of death row inmate Troy Davis, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011. Davis is facing lethal injection for killing an off-duty Georgia policeman in Savannah, a crime he and others have insisted for years that he did not commit. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
A man chants during a vigil for Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis In Jackson, Ga., Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011. Davis is scheduled to die Wednesday for the killing off-duty Savannah officer Mark MacPhail. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Anne MacPhail pauses for a moment after learning at 10:55 p.m., on September 21, 2011, that the U.S. Supreme Court had denied a stay of execution for Troy Davis, who was convicted in the 1989 murder of her son Mark MacPhail. Davis was executed shortly after in Jackson, Georgia. (Robin Trimarchi/Columbus Ledger-Enquirer/MCT via Getty Images)

Mugshot of Kelly Renee Gissendaner

(Photo credit: Georgia Department of Corrections)


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: the warden of the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, the director of the Department of Corrections and Steve Mullins, general counsel to Governor Mary Fallin..

The report said the general counsel pushed for going ahead with Glossip's execution, knowing the state had a drug not on its official protocol.

It also said Oklahoma should look at alternative methods, such as death by nitrogen gas.

"More transparency is needed as well as accountability for a pattern of serious mistakes in the administration of the death penalty in the state," said attorney Dale Baich, who has represented Oklahoma death row inmates.

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