Correction: A box providing information about the infant victim of death-row inmate Charles Frederick Warner originally reported the wrong year the homicide occurred. Adrianna Waller was killed on Aug. 22, 1997. The story has been corrected.
McALESTER -- The execution of convicted killer Clayton Lockett was botched Tuesday at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary before he died of a massive heart attack. The event prompted officials to postpone a second execution that had been scheduled for two hours later.
Lockett was given execution drugs and reacted violently, kicking and grimacing while lifting his head off the gurney to which he was strapped. He was pronounced dead at 7:06 p.m. inside the execution chamber -- 43 minutes after the process began -- Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton said.
In a media conference, Patton said Lockett's veins "exploded" during the execution, which began at 6:23 p.m. The inmate died from what Patton called a "massive heart attack." The death occurred after the execution process had been halted.
Convicted killer Charles Warner had been scheduled to be executed at 8 p.m. Patton said he notified the Governor's Office and the Attorney General's Office about the events and asked for a 14-day delay of Warner's execution.
Gov. Mary Fallin issued a statement Tuesday night saying she had issued an executive order delaying Warner's execution.
“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,” Fallin said in the statement. “I have issued an executive order delaying the execution of Charles Frederick Warner for 14 days to allow for that review to be completed.”
Tonight's executions were to be the first in Oklahoma using a new three-drug cocktail of vecuronium bromide, midazolam and potassium chloride.
Lockett had no last words as the execution began. Sixteen minutes after it started, Oklahoma State Penitentiary Warden Anita Trammell said: “We’re going to lower the blinds temporarily.” A doctor in the chamber went to Lockett’s right arm and lifted a sheet, apparently checking his vein where a tube had been inserted.
Patton left the observation room for several minutes and was on the phone. Department of Public Safety Commissioner Michael Thompson then was summoned to leave the observation area as well.
When Patton returned to the observation room, he said: “We’ve had a vein failure in which the chemicals did not make it into the offender. Under my authority, we’re issuing a stay for the second execution.”
In a media conference later, Patton said Lockett was sedated about seven minutes into the execution. Lockett received a dose of 50 milligrams of midazolam, a sedative, in each arm to begin the execution. Patton said the second and third drugs were being administered when the doctor observed a problem, saying the "line had blown."
"It was my decision at that time to stop the execution," said Patton, who also said he didn't know how much of the second and third drugs had been administered.
When asked whether Lockett's death would be classified as an execution, DOC spokesman Jerry Massie said he didn't know. Massie said the classification would be up to the state medical examiner.
Two attorneys for Lockett were the only witnesses present in the observation area for the inmate. Both looked shocked at the turn of events.
In the moments after the execution process ended, defense attorney David Autry said he was unsure how much of the chemicals Lockett had been given.
“They will save him so they can kill him another day,” Autry said.
Defense attorney Dean Sanderford wept during the execution. Sanderford later said, “that’s an overdose level that they gave him of midazolam, so those levels are still rising in his blood.”
About 15 minutes after the blinds were closed to the death chamber, media witnesses were told to exit the area.
OETA journalist Lis Exon witnessed the execution along with 11 other media representatives. It was Exon’s first time to witness an execution.
“I was nervous going in but pretty much expected it would be fairly seamless and done in a few minutes. When he stayed conscious after they started administering the drugs, … I kept thinking, 'Why isn’t he going under? Why is he still conscious?' "
Exon said the experience left her shaken.
"It was so startling and hard to watch. ... It just seemed like it went on and on forever."
Exon and other media witnesses, including a Tulsa World reporter, were unable to see what was going on in the execution chamber after the blinds were shut.
"Here we are, supposed to be official witnesses, and they closed the blinds on us so we can’t witness what’s happening," she said.
Warner's attorney issued a statement calling for an investigation into the botched execution, as well as an autopsy by an independent pathologist and full disclosure on the drugs used.
"After weeks of Oklahoma refusing to disclose basic information about the drugs for tonight's lethal injection procedures, tonight, Clayton Lockett was tortured to death," said Madeline Cohen, an assistant federal public defender.
"Until much more is known about tonight's failed experiment of an execution, no execution can be permitted in Oklahoma," she said.
Ryan Kiesel, executive director of the ACLU of Oklahoma, said the state "has disgraced itself before the nation and world."
"The greatest power any government has over an individual is to take that person’s life. More than any other power, the exercise of the power to kill must be accompanied by due process and transparency. This evening we saw what happens when we allow the government to act in secret at its most powerful moment and the consequences of trading due process for political posturing."
Brady Henderson, legal director of the ACLU of Oklahoma, called on the courts to reconsider Oklahoma's execution secrecy law.
"There are serious concerns about the lethal injection process in light of more and more botched executions conducted with questionable drugs from questionable sources, and an Oklahoma law now bars inmates (and everybody else) from finding out important information needed to ensure compliance with the Constitution. In other words, it puts a veil of secrecy over one of the most grave functions of state government – killing its own citizens. If we are to have executions at all, they must not be conducted like hastily thrown together human science experiments.”
Lockett was convicted in the 1999 murder of Stephanie Neiman, 19, of Perry.
In a handwritten statement before Tuesday's execution, Neiman's parents, Susie and Steve Neiman, said: "God blessed us with our precious daughter, Stephanie, for 19-years. Stephanie loved children. She worked in vacation Bible school and always helped with our church nativity scenes. She was the joy of our life. We are thankful this day has finally arrived and justice will be served."
Neiman’s friend Summer Hair had asked Neiman to drive to a friend’s house to ask if he would like to attend a party.
Neiman waited in the truck while Hair went into the house. Once inside, Hair found her friend, Bobby Bornt, severely beaten and bound. Hair was attacked by Lockett before being forced to coax Neiman inside the home.
All three were beaten before Lockett and his accomplices, Alfonzo Lockett and Shawn Mathis, loaded the three victims into two pickups and drove them to a rural Kay County road. Lockett ordered Mathis to dig a grave while Neiman watched.
He then took Neiman at gun point to a ditch and shot her with a shotgun. When the shotgun jammed, he returned to the truck to fix it and then shot Neiman a second time as she pleaded for mercy.
While Neiman was still alive, Lockett ordered his accomplice to bury her. He later described to investigators how Stephanie was still alive and choking on the dirt as they buried her alive.
"Warner was convicted in the rape and murder of his roommate's 11-month-old daughter, Adrianna Waller, in Oklahoma City on Aug. 22, 1997."
Adrianna’s mother, Shonda Waller, had left her daughter and three other children with Warner. When she returned, she found Adrianna unresponsive.
The girl was pronounced dead at a hospital with multiple serious injuries. Warner’s son testified that he saw his father violently shake Adrianna because he didn’t like her crying.
How it happened
Per Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ revised execution protocol, deathrow inmate Clayton Lockett had received 50 milligrams of the sedative Midazolam in each arm as the first step of a three-part execution cocktail. The physician presiding over his execution determined after seven minutes that Lockett was sedated, according to DOC officials. At that time, they began pushing the second and third parts of the threedrug cocktail, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride. At some point after that began, officials said they noticed that something had gone wrong and that a “vein blew.” They lowered the blinds between the execution chamber and the viewing room and did not tell media witnesses what was occurring. Officials said they were unsure how much of the drugs had been absorbed by Lockett at that point. He died at 7:06 p.m. of a massive heart attack, according to the DOC.
- 50 mg/10 ml Midazolam in each arm
- saline flush
- 20 mg/20cc Vecuronium bromide in each arm
- saline flush
- Potassium chloride 100 meq/50cc in each arm
“Prior to the administration of vecuronium bromide or a comparable non-depolarizing neuromuscular blocking agent, the physician present in the Execution Room will monitor the condemned offender’s level of consciousness through whatever means the physician believes are appropriate, to ensure that the condemned is sufficiently unconscious prior to the administration of the blocking agent. The physician may monitor the condemned offender with an EKG monitor and/or stethoscope.
The blocking agent will NOT be administered until at least 5 minutes after the beginning of the administration of the midazolam.”
Source: Department of Corrections protocol manual
Charles Frederick Warner
Age at time of crime: 30
Convicted: July 23, 2000, in Oklahoma County of first-degree murder
Case background: Warner was convicted in the rape and murder of his roommate’s 11-month-old daughter, Adrianna Waller, on Aug. 22, 1997. Adrianna’s mother, Shonda Waller, had left her daughter and three other children with Warner. When she returned, she found Adrianna unresponsive. The girl was pronounced dead at a hospital with multiple injuries. Warner’s son testified that he saw his father violently shake Adrianna because he didn’t like her crying.
Warner’s execution was stayed Tuesday following the botched execution of Clayton Lockett.
Clayton Derrell Lockett
Age at time of crime: 23
Convicted: Oct. 5, 2000, in Noble County of first-degree murder
Case background: Lockett was convicted in the murder of Stephanie Neiman, 19, of Perry. Neiman’s friend Summer Hair had asked Neiman to drive to a friend’s house to ask if he would like to attend a party. Neiman waited in the truck while Hair went into the house. Once inside, Hair found her friend, Bobby Bornt, severely beaten and bound. Hair was attacked by Clayton Lockett before being forced to coax Neiman inside. All three were beaten before Lockett and his accomplices, Alfonzo Lockett and Shawn Mathis, loaded the three victims into two pickups and drove them to a rural Kay County road. Lockett ordered Mathis to dig a grave while Neiman watched. He took Neiman at gunpoint to a ditch and shot her with a shotgun. When the shotgun jammed, he returned to the truck to fix it and then shot Neiman a second time as she pleaded for mercy. While Neiman was still alive, Lockett ordered his accomplice to bury her. He later described to investigators how Stephanie was still alive and choking on the dirt as they buried her alive.
Lockett died Tuesday from complications caused by what was described as a botched execution.
Feb. 25: Attorneys for Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner file a civil suit against the state in Oklahoma County District Court, challenging the state’s execution secrecy statute. The law allows the Department of Corrections to withhold information about suppliers of drugs and medical equipment for executions.
Feb. 28: Oklahoma Pardon and Parole board denies by 4-1 vote Lockett’s request to commute his death sentence to life in prison.
March 4: Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board denies by 4-1 vote Warner’s request to commute his death sentence to life in prison. A lawsuit challenging Oklahoma’s law that shields details of drugs used in executions is moved to federal court, after being set for a March 4 hearing. The hearing was canceled after the case was transferred to federal court at the request of the state.
March 7: U.S. District Judge David L. Russell rules the lawsuit seeking information about the lethal drugs that will be used in their execution should be heard in state court instead of federal court.
March 10: Oklahoma County District Judge Patricia Parrish denies a stay of execution for Lockett and Warner.
March 11: Lawyers representing Lockett and Warner ask the state Supreme Court for an emergency stay of execution.
March 13: The Oklahoma Supreme Court has forwards a request to stay the execution to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.
March 17: State officials reveal they are having trouble obtaining the approved drugs for the first two stages of Oklahoma’s three-part lethal injection procedure.
March 18: Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals voids Lockett and Warner’s scheduled March execution dates, moving both to April, allowing the Department of Corrections additional time to procure two of the drugs it needs for lethal injections or “adopt a new execution protocol.”
March 26: Oklahoma County District Judge Patricia Parrish rules the state’s execution law unconstitutional because its privacy provision is so strict that it that prevents inmates from finding out the source of drugs used in executions, even through the courts.
April 1: Lawyers for death row inmates Lockett and Warner say they received an email from Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt saying the state Corrections Department has acquired lethal doses of midazolam and pancuronium bromide from a compounding pharmacy. The state already had a supply of the third drug in the execution process, potassium chloride.
April 3: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt announces state will continue with executions, despite court order stating it must disclose where it gets the drugs it uses in the lethal injection. Pruitt said he was concerned identifying the source of the drugs would result in the providers being harassed and threatened.
April 7: Lawyers for Lockett and Warner file a request with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to delay the executions, saying that although the state has revealed what drugs it plans to use to kill the two men, it has not revealed where it got the drugs from.
April 9: An Oklahoma appeals court rules the state can move ahead with the executions, and defense attorneys say they will ask the state Supreme Court to halt the executions amid questions about the lethal injection procedures.
April 17: The Supreme Court says that the Court of Criminal Appeals must decide whether to stay the executions, reminding the lower court of the “gravity” and “time restraints” involved. In its 7-2 ruling, the Supreme Court returned the issue of whether to grant a stay to the appeals court.
April 18: The Court of Criminal Appeals refuses for a second time to rule on a stay for the inmates, saying the court lacks jurisdiction.
“This court may grant a stay of execution only when (1) there is an action pending in this court; (2) the action challenges the death row inmate’s conviction or death sentence; and (3) the death row inmate makes the requisite showings of likely success and irreparable harm,” the ruling states.
April 21: Noting it was in an “awkward position,” a divided Supreme Court issues stays of execution for Lockett and Warner pending appeals of the lower court’s ruling on the secrecy law. The Supreme Court decision points out that the state’s highest court had twice directed the Court of Criminal Appeals to decide on the merits of the stay and it declined.
April 22: Gov. Mary Fallin issues an executive order staying Lockett’s execution for seven days, until April 29. Fallin says the state Supreme Court overstepped its authority in issuing its own execution stays for Lockett and Warner.
April 23: The Supreme Court issues a ruling dissolving its own stay and finding the execution secrecy law constitutional. State Rep. Mike Christian, R-Oklahoma City, files articles of impeachment against the five justices who voted for the execution stays, claiming they exceeded their authority.