YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A botched lethal injection Tuesday in Oklahoma has brought the capital punishment debate back into the national spotlight.
Legal analyst Matthew Mangino said the United States Supreme Court ruled that lethal injection in not cruel and unusual punishment, nor does is violate the Eighth Amendment. But Tuesday night in Oklahoma, corrections officials stopped the execution of 38-year-old Clayton Lockett.
They claim Lockett was unconscious, but witnesses said he was twitching, mumbling and clenching his teeth.
A doctor determined Lockett’s vein had exploded. He died of a heart attack 43 minutes after the first drug was administered.
“You had an execution. It was stopped. If he wasn’t executed and he died, it wasn’t by natural causes because we know he was administered drugs,” said Mangino. “How do you determine what happened there? Was it homicide?”
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin is calling for a full review of the state’s execution protocol. She ordered a 14-day stay for another inmate scheduled to be executed two hours after Lockett.
Even the White House Wednesday was asking, what happened?
“Even when the death penalty is justified, it must be carried out humanely,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. “I think everyone would recognize that this case fell short of that standard.”
Ohio’s January execution of Dennis McGuire lasted 26 minutes; the longest since the state resumed executions in 1999. Like Lockett, officials say McGuire was asleep and unconscious despite making snorting and gasping sounds.
“When a person dies, they are going to move, they are going to gasp, they are going to snore, that happens commonly no matter what kind of death it is,” said Mahoning County forensic pathologist Dr. Joseph Ohr.
Ohio announced Monday it will increase the dosage of its two lethal injection drugs. That same day, Youngstown’s Willie Wilks Junior learned a jury recommended the death penalty in the shooting death of 20-year-old Orora Wilkins.
Jury selection is also underway for another capital murder case in Youngstown. Aubrey Toney could face the death penalty if convicted in the 2010 shooting death of Thomas Repchic.