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Oklahoma Messes Up Execution Again
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charles warner

Summary: Inmate Charles Warner was executed in January. But were the right drugs used? 

Poor Charles Warner was just doomed. His original execution date was for the same evening as Clayton D. Lockett’s execution. When that one went wrong, he was hopeful he had caught a break. However, it was not to be, and the man that brutally raped and murdered an 11-month old girl was ultimately put to death in January.


When the autopsy report came back for Warner’s death it showed he was given the wrong drug during his execution. Per the report, he was administered potassium acetate instead of potassium chloride. Upon investigation, it was revealed that the syringes were labeled differently than the boxes.

A pharmacist and doctor for the Department of Corrections, as well as several medical resources, say the two drugs can be used interchangeably in medicine. However, upon learning that the state had been given potassium acetate instead of the potassium chloride and that the wrong drug may have been used for Warner’s execution, the governor of Oklahoma postponed the execution of Richard Glossip last month.

Oklahoma’s execution protocol allows for some changes in the three-drug cocktail but the dosage amounts must remain the same. The second drug, vecuronium bromide, can be substituted with two other drugs. However, the potassium chloride does not have any substitutions listed in the protocol.

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Many states have experienced difficulty in obtaining the necessary drugs for lethal injections in recent years. Opponents of capital punishment have placed pressure on drug manufacturers, and the bad publicity has made some drug makers cut back on production.

Last month, Hospira—the only U.S. company with approval to manufacture sodium thiopental—announced it will no longer produce the drug. Sodium thiopental is often used as an anesthetic in the three-drug cocktail.

Hospira’s decision followed an international campaign by death penalty opponents and opposition from Italian officials, who protested when the company tried to shift production to a plant in Italy.

The sodium thiopental shortage has forced the 35 states using lethal injection to scramble for remaining stock and explore alternative drugs. Some states may have to make legislative or regulatory changes before they can alter their lethal injection protocols.

Lockett’s botched execution was from a phlebotomist missing his vein so that the drugs went into his surrounding tissue. He died from a heart attack.

Source: NPR

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