WASHINGTON (AP/CNN) — The White House says a botched execution of a death row inmate in Oklahoma fell short of the humane standards required when the death penalty is carried out.
Officials halted Clayton Lockett’s execution Tuesday when he convulsed violently and tried to lift his head after a doctor declared him unconscious. He later died of an apparent heart attack.
Lockett lived for 43 minutes after being administered the first drug, CNN affiliate KFOR reported. He got out the words “Man,” “I’m not,” and “something’s wrong,” reporter Courtney Francisco of KFOR said. Then the blinds were closed.
Other reporters, including Cary Aspinwall of the Tulsa World newspaper, also said Lockett was still alive and lifted his head while prison officials lowered the blinds so onlookers couldn’t see what was going on.
Dean Sanderford, Lockett’s attorney, said his client’s body “started to twitch,” and then “the convulsing got worse. It looked like his whole upper body was trying to lift off the gurney. For a minute, there was chaos.”
Sanderford said guards ordered him out of the witness area, and he was never told what had happened to Lockett, who was convicted in 2000 of first-degree murder, rape, kidnapping and robbery.
White House spokesman Jay Carney says President Barack Obama believes evidence shows the death penalty doesn’t effectively deter crime. But he says Obama believes some crimes are so heinous that the death penalty is merited. He says the crimes in Lockett’s case are indisputably heinous.
But Carney says the U.S. has a fundamental standard that the death penalty must be carried out humanely. He says everyone would recognize that this case fell short.
Precisely what occurred remains unclear. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin issued a statement saying that “execution officials said Lockett remained unconscious after the lethal injection drugs were administered.”
The state halted the execution of another inmate, Charles Warner, which was scheduled for later in the day. “I notified the attorney general’s office, the governor’s office of my intent to stop the execution and requested a stay for 14 days,” said Patton.