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Tulsa World Editor Ziva Branstetter: ‘He Was Clenching His Teeth And Grimacing’
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, front, issues a statement to the media on the Execution of Clayton Lockett as Oklahoma Secretary of Safety and Security Michael C. Thompson, back, listens from the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, April 30, 2014. Lockett apparently died of a massive heart attack during his botched execution. (AP)

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, front, issues a statement to the media on the Execution of Clayton Lockett as Oklahoma Secretary of Safety and Security Michael C. Thompson, back, listens from the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, April 30, 2014. Lockett apparently died of a massive heart attack during his botched execution. (AP)

The gruesome news out of Oklahoma last week centered around the botched execution of a convicted murderer. Clayton Lockett, a death row inmate at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Oklahoma, was scheduled for execution on Tuesday, April 29. However, the administration of the three-drug cocktail used to kill the inmate failed, and Lockett died of a heart attack well after being pronounced dead in the execution chamber.

Tulsa World enterprise editor Ziva Branstetter was one of several members of the media present during Lockett’s execution, and she joined On Point this week to detail the process, the confusion and the ongoing debate surrounding the case in Oklahoma and throughout the country.

“The execution started at 6:23 p.m.,” Branstetter said. “About 10 minutes into the execution, the doctor pronounced the inmate unconscious, and then about 13 minutes into the execution, the inmate began mumbling, rolling his head side to side, and began about three minutes of a violent reaction. His body was bucking like he was trying to get up, he raised his head and shoulders off the gurney, he was clenching his teeth and grimacing, he was clearly in pain. After about three minutes of that reaction, the Warden, who was present, ordered the blinds closed.”

While accounts vary, Branstetter and the other media witnesses heard Lockett say a few words after the point he should have been unconscious.

“Among the witnesses, we clearly heard him say, indicate that he was in pain, that he felt something was wrong with the execution,” Branstetter said.

Branstetter told us the case has stirred conversation and controversy around the Sooner State.

“Oklahoma is a conservative state that does support the death penalty in general,” Branstetter said. “The Governor has said that the citizens of the state do not have blood on their hands..but it has created a tremendous debate in our state.”

What do you think? Have you waded into the debate around the death penalty in America after last week’s execution? Has your mind changed either way? Could it? Let us know in the comments below, or on Facebook, Tumblr and @OnPointRadio.

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  • saleav

    The “doctor,” whose identity is protected by OK statute but whom some say is widely known in the town where the execution was carried out, was clearly in violation of rules set out by the AMA and the American Board of Anesthesiology, as well as by the American Osteopathic Association, forbidding their members to participate in lethal injection and other aspects of the death penalty. From published eyewitness accounts and from the records made public by prison officials, the doctor would also appear to have fallen far short of providing any reasonable standard of care when inserting the femoral line (or supervising its insertion), and in his assessment of unconsciousness, which is not rocket science. Any physician participation is unethical; his appears to have been both unethical and unprofessionally inept.

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