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Lethal Injection

Execution Witness: Inmate Appeared ‘In Pain’

Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett grimaced, clenched his jaw and jerked his body in the moments a lethal injection drug was administered to him Tuesday night — about three minutes after he was supposedly unconscious during his execution, according to a journalist who witnessed the chaos.

The troubling scene forced corrections officials to halt the execution, although Lockett was pronounced dead a half-hour later from a heart attack. Oklahoma said it is reviewing what happened.

Tulsa World editor Ziva Branstetter, one of 12 media witnesses permitted at Oklahoma State Penitentiary, said it appeared to take longer for Lockett to become unconscious after injecting him with 50 milligrams of midazolam — part of a new three-drug cocktail.

He was declared “unconscious” at 6:33 p.m. CT, Branstetter said.

“About three minutes had passed, and then he began to have a violent reaction for three minutes,” she said on MSNBC’s “Jansing & Co.” on Wednesday.

Lethal injection stopped, Oklahoma inmate still dies 1:55

Branstetter said Lockett lifted his head and body from the gurney several times, and then mumbled.

“Man,” she said she heard him say.

“He did appear to be in pain,” Branstetter said.

At 6:39 p.m., officials lowered the blinds of the death chamber. The reporters couldn’t see what was happening.

At about 6:50 p.m., Robert Patton, director of the state Department of Corrections, told reporters that the execution had been stopped. Reporters were told that the inmate’s vein had collapsed.

The reporters were escorted out and brought to the media center, where they were told at 7:06 p.m. that Lockett was pronounced dead in the execution chamber from a heart attack.

Branstetter later tweeted:

— Erik Ortiz