Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The truth only makes it worse

I have a bit of sympathy for Oklahoma prison officials trying to rationalize explain what went wrong during the botched murder of Clayton Lockett last April. God knows they needed an excuse to explain why Mr. Lockett was still alive 15 minutes into the execution. That need got bigger when they drew the curtain (telling everyone that something was very much fucked up). And they certainly had to come up with a good excuse for Mr. Lockett's dying of a heart attack some 40 minutes after the entire process had begun.

They latched on to the only thing they could come up with at the time. Prison officials told the world that a doctor told them that Mr. Lockett's vein had exploded. Or collapsed. Or something like that. Hell, he was a convicted murderer - did it really matter how he ended up dead?

On the night of Mr. Lockett's execution, attendants (who may or may not have had any medical training - since the state keeps that a secret) tried to stick IV needles into the veins in both arms but were unable to find it. Then they decided to stick the needles into the veins in his groin - or at least in the general vicinity of the veins.

We know this because of an independent autopsy that was conducted on Mr. Lockett's body. Forensic pathologist Joseph Cohen found multiple needle marks on both arms that were made in a frantic attempt to find a vein. I guess no one ever heard of using a rubber tube to constrict blood flow to make the veins more visible. But, hey, what do I know? I'm just a lawyer.

Dr. Cohen also stated that the decision by some genius to jab Mr. Lockett in the groin area was guaranteed to be far more painful than jabbing him in the arm. Then came the coup de grace - Mr. Lockett's veins were in perfect condition. They didn't explode. They didn't collapse. They didn't blow out.

No. The folks in charge of the execution fucked this puppy up. Now Gov. Mary Fallin is taking a more cautious route, waiting for the state's "independent" autopsy report before she makes any statements about the botched execution and what the future holds for those on Oklahoma's death row.

As an aside, I would presume that the state's "independent" autopsy will be just as independent as the "independent" medical reviews in civil personal injury cases that are conducted by a doctor of the insurance company's own choosing. Just a thought.

So, was the execution botched because prison attendants couldn't figure out how to stick an IV needle in a vein or was the execution fucked up because of the first drug of the lethal cocktail? We know that Mr. Lockett felt intense pain because he was rendered unconscious by the first drug. That means he was very much conscious when the third drug stopped his heart.

Is this how a civilized society operates? It's time to put an end to the madness.

See also:

"A science experiment gone wrong," The Defense Rests (May 1, 2014)

1 comment:

Lee said...

If you google it the associated press found a letter from the prison officials to the governor detailing the timeline of the execution.