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Okla. Botched Execution Won’t Change Texas Death Penalty Procedures

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Jack Fink
Jack moved to Dallas after three years at WESH-TV, the NBC affil...
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OKLAHOMA (CBSDFW.COM) - Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett’s step-mom Ladonna Hollins is overwhelmed by sadness after his botched execution.

“I know it was to put him to death, but not to torture him. It is killing me as a mom,” said Hollins.

Witnesses say the convicted murderer began convulsing for several minutes after he received the first drug in the three drug cocktail. He lived for 43 minutes, then suffered a heart attack. Officials say one of his veins failed or collapsed. Dawn Palomares, a registered nurse at Medical City Dallas Hospital, says it’s a common problem.

“It can be the medication administered, it can be the rate, it can be that it was not a good vein to begin with, and that’s something you don’t know happens until that happens.”

As a result, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has halted all executions until a thorough review is complete and determines what went wrong. At a news conference Wednesday, Fallin said, “We agree that an independent review of the Department of Corrections procedures would be effective and also appropriate.”

This is the first time Oklahoma used the new lethal injection cocktail. So the state will be finding out what caused Lockett’s death and whether corrections officials followed the proper procedures. In Texas, the State Department of Criminal Justice says it has no plans to change its execution procedures. It moved to a single lethal dose of pentobarbital two years ago.

In Dallas Wednesday, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott sought to reassure the public.

“Our protocol is different. We’ve had absolutely no problem using our protocol. I think we’ve had 30 executions under that protocol, we will always monitor our system very carefully, so that we never have happen in Texas what happened in Oklahoma.”

Rick Halperin, Director of the Embrey Human Rights Program at SMU, says he doesn’t believe what happened to our north will even stir much debate here. “This was particularly appalling. This particular botched execution should dispel the myth once and for all that executions can or are or can be humane.”

The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishments. But those who oppose the death penalty acknowledge the very reason Clayton Lockett was on death row. He assaulted, kidnapped, and shot Stephanie Newman in 1999, then watched as an accomplice buried her alive in a shallow grave.

A fact not lost on Lockett’s family, but they still have deep concerns about what happened. Hollins says, “He did a bad thing. We recognize that, he recognized that. We all did.  But it’s a Constitutional wrong that we are fighting against.”

She says they may file a lawsuit against Oklahoma.

Follow Jack on Twitter:  @cbs11jack

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