SERVICE COPY OF ORDER FILED IN COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS CASE #S D-2000-1330 AND D-2003-829 THIS DATE*************************ETC. APLNT LOCKETT'S EXECUTION DATE VACATED AND RESET FOR 4-22-14. APLNT WARNER'S EXECUTION DATE VACATED AND RESET FOR 4-29-14. PLNTFS' EMERGENCY APPL FOR STAY OF EXECUTION PENDING OUTCOME OF APPEAL DENIED AS MOOT.(COURT OF CRIMS MAILED TO ALL PARTIES)The problem, of course, it that they'd run out of drugs. That despite all the giggling. Katie Fretland, in the Colorado Independent:
Oklahoma announced Monday that its covert deal to buy lethal injections fell through, highlighting a shadowy market for death penalty drugs and raising questions about protecting secret drug suppliers from public scrutiny. Records obtained by The Colorado Independent reveal a disturbing flippancy among high-level officials who have been involved with executions in Oklahoma.
In response to a request from Texas for advice on how to deal with the scarcity of the lethal injection drug sodium thiopental, records show that Oklahoma Assistant Attorney General Seth Branham quipped in a January 2011 email to a colleague that Oklahoma might cooperate in exchange for much sought-after 50-yard-line tickets to the Red River Rivalry, a football game between the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas. In a reply, fellow Assistant Attorney General Stephen J. Krise joked that for Oklahoma’s assistance Texas’s team should intentionally lose several games.
“Looks like they waited until the last minute and now need help from those they refused to help earlier,” Krise wrote. “So, I propose we help if TX promises to take a dive in the OU-TX game for the next 4 years.”
That's pretty sophomoric gallows humor if you'll excuse the expression (and if you won't . . . not my problem), I suppose. But hey, anyone can make bad jokes, and those are from e-mails where bad jokes are almost mandatory. No, what I'm struck by in the Sooner State is the other news Fretland reports.
Convicts executed in Oklahoma have in some cases died from overdoses of pentobarbital or sodium thiopental, the anesthetic, rather than the second and third injections in the three-drug cocktail, according to documents obtained by The Independent. Records show executioners then injected the remaining two drugs into convicts’ dead bodies for what forms turned over in response to an open-records request refer to as “disposal purposes.”OK (yeah, I know; live with it), it's macabre. It's also deceptive, effectively covering up botched killings.
Jerry Massie, the spokesman for the prison system, defended the practice, saying it follows state protocol.
But Dr. Joe Cohen, a forensic pathologist, said injecting leftover drugs into dead bodies may distort postmortem toxicology results, thereby preventing the public from knowing what an inmate experienced during the execution.
This isn't about the secrecy issue - at least not directly. Sure, like more and more states, Oklahoma is struggling, fighting litigation by the guys on the row, to keep secret just where and how it gets its drugs. You know, because even the killers don't want to be involved in the killing. Or as the NRA doesn't quite say,
Drugs don't kill people. People kill people.
But then nobody pretends that Glock doesn't make Glocks, even ones that people use to kill other people. But the execution drugs? Who the hell knows? And the obloquy. If we're torn as a people over gun control (though probably not so much in Oklahoma), we're absolutely confounded over executions. Good idea in the abstract, but kinda shameful in the concrete.
Which is a digression from the point that Oklahoma disposes of the excess drugs in a nice safe way - by shooting them into the guy they've just killed. Thereby masking just what they did. Doesn't look so gruesome when you've covered up the gruesomeness.
And of course, that's the whole point of the process, of the clinicalization, the medicalization of killing. To make it look pretty. Regardless.
Though sometimes, because we're so damned intent on the killing, some of the ugly truth comes through. Viz, Dennis McGuire in January. Per Alan Johnson in the Dispatch.
Dennis McGuire struggled, repeatedly gasping loudly for air and making snorting and choking sounds, before succumbing to a new two-drug execution method today. . . .After being injected at 10:29 a.m., about four minutes later McGuire started struggling and gasping loudly for air, making snorting and choking sounds which lasted for at least 10 minutes. His chest heaved and his left fist clinched as deep, snorting sounds emanated from his mouth. However, for the last several minutes before he was pronounced dead, he was still.
Oh, I suppose there's a sense in which the execution wasn't botched. I mean, McGuire ended up dead, unlike Rommell Broom whom Ohio couldn't manage to kill. But McGuire's killing left a bad taste. By revealing a truth. Which isn't supposed to happen.
And which Oklahoma is trying damned hard to cover up.
But the secret's out.