Intended for healthcare professionals


Botched execution could lead to legal challenges in death penalty states

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 02 May 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g3064
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. 1Montreal

US states that impose the death penalty are likely to face a slew of legal challenges and possible moratoriums after an Oklahoma execution that used a new drug cocktail was badly botched. Clayton Lockett awoke, spoke, and struggled several minutes after being pronounced unconscious and up to 16 minutes after being injected with the sedative midazolam.

Witnesses reported that the supervising doctor declared “it’s not working” at 16 minutes, as Lockett writhed and said, “Oh, man.” At this point the curtains of the execution chamber were drawn and the execution halted. But Lockett died of a heart attack 43 minutes after the injection.

The director of Oklahoma’s Department of Corrections, Robert …

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