Okla. Returns Executed Inmate's Body—Minus Heart
Okla. says cause of death to be released 'very soon'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 10, 2014 1:47 AM CDT
Clayton Lockett is pictured in a photo dated June 29, 2011.    (AP Photo/Oklahoma Department of Corrections, File)

(Newser) – An Oklahoma inmate who died after a botched execution was returned to his family and cremated without his heart and larynx, which the office conducting an independent autopsy has decided to keep. Officials say medical examiners can retain tissue indefinitely. "It's not completely unusual," the medical director of a facility that performs independent autopsies tell the AP, explaining that doctors probably found an issue with Clayton Lockett's heart and larynx they want to document. "They might want to do some additional investigation or saw something that was very important to the diagnosis," she says.

Lockett died of an apparent heart attack 43 minutes after Oklahoma attempted to execute him using a new, three-drug method for the first time. The official cause and manner of his death will be released "very soon" by the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office, a spokeswoman tells the Tulsa World. The independent autopsy is being conducted in Texas, but the spokeswoman says its findings will be treated as a recommendation, not the final determination of what killed Lockett. After his drawn-out death, an inmate scheduled to die the same night was granted a six-month stay of execution.