NPR

Attorneys For Oklahoma Death Row Inmates Seek To Halt Executions

Lawyers will be in federal court to argue that the state should not be allowed to resume executions in January, as planned. Last spring, a botched execution caused the state to revise its protocols.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And some may find details in this next brief story disturbing. Lawyers for 21 death row prisoners are in federal court today. Prisoners who were all incarcerated in Oklahoma. And they want an injunction to stop their executions after the state's botched lethal injection of Clayton Lockett this last spring, this after new revelations from the state's own investigation where the prison warden described that execution as a, quote, "bloody mess." NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports.

WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: Lawyers for the condemned men argue Oklahoma is essentially conducting drug experiments on their clients, violating their Eighth Amendment rights. Death penalty states have been scrambling to find alternative execution drugs after European manufacturers refused to continue to sell to them. A key element of the federal court hearing will involve the use of the drug midazolam. Oklahoma used midazolam to replace pentobarbital for the first time on 38-year-old Clayton Lockett. Pentobarbital is an anesthetic, similar to what's used for surgery, but midazolam is not an anesthetic. It's a sedative, and that was likely a major factor why Lockett began to struggle and tried to get up from his gurney. According to the state's investigation, the participating physician hurriedly tried to put in a second line but hit an artery in Lockett's groin, spraying blood everywhere. The execution was finally halted, but Lockett died later anyway. Wade Goodwyn, NPR News, Dallas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Most Popular