A prisoner in the US state of Oklahoma died of a heart attack following a botched execution on Tuesday, triggering claims of torture by attorneys for the death row inmate.
Clayton Lockett, 38, died around 40 minutes after his execution was halted due to a botched lethal injection. He was convicted of murder, rape, kidnapping and robbery for a 1999 crime spree.
Lockett was administered a new and untested three-drug combination. Following the injection of the three lethal drugs, Lockett writhed on the gurney, clenched his teeth, and strained to lift his head off the pillow before he died, according to witnesses.
Lockett’s lawyers say he was tortured to death and have called for an independent investigation and autopsy to learn what really went wrong. “It was a horrible thing to witness. This was totally botched,” said Lockett’s attorney, David Autry.
Defense attorneys have argued there may be problems with purity and potency of the chemicals that come from compounding pharmacies, raising questions about whether they should be used to prepare lethal injection drugs.
The tragic end to Lockett’s life caused Oklahoma to postpone the execution of a second inmate named Charles Warner for two weeks. Both death row inmates were African American.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the racial ratio of the victims of the death penalty in the US has been striking since the revival of the practice in 1976, with the penalty being disproportionately imposed on blacks and ethnic minorities.
Statistics released by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice show that 11 of the 16 executed prisoners in the state of Texas, which has been responsible for nearly 40 percent of all executions in the US since 1976, were African American or Hispanic in 2013.