Lethal Injection

Prisoner in Botched Execution Had Healthy Veins: Pathologist

The Oklahoma inmate who died during a botched lethal injection has perfectly healthy veins, a pathologist hired by defense lawyers says in a preliminary report.

Dr. Joseph Cohen performed an independent autopsy on Clayton Lockett, whose April 29 execution went so wrong that the White House condemned it.

Lockett, a rapist and murderer, died 43 minutes after the execution began and appeared to regain consciousness and writhe in pain midway through, according to media witnesses.


Prison officials have said they believe a vein collapsed after the IV was inserted into Lockett's groin, but Cohen's report found evidence of "failed catheter access."

“The improper placement of the IV used in Mr. Lockett’s execution is just one factor that caused his prolonged and painful death,” Megan McCracken, a lawyer with the Death Penalty Clinic at U.C. Berkeley School of Law, said in a statement.

She said a three-drug protocol being used for the first time in Oklahoma "exacerbated the pain and suffering that Mr. Lockett faced."

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Oklahoma is conducting its own review of the lethal injection and has put all executions on hold until it's completed. Three other inmates are scheduled for execution next week in other states.

Cohen said he cannot issue a final report until the state gives him more information, including its examination of Lockett's heart and larynx, which were removed before he conducted his own autopsy.

— Tracy Connor