An Oklahoma inmate whose execution was halted tonight because the delivery of a new drug combination was botched died of a heart attack, the head of the state Department of Corrections said. The execution began at 6:23pm when officials began administering the first drug, and a doctor declared Clayton Lockett to be unconscious at 6:33pm. About three minutes later, though, Lockett began breathing heavily, writhing on the gurney, clenching his teeth, and straining to lift his head off the pillow. After about three minutes, a doctor lifted the sheet that was covering Lockett to examine the injection site "and the doctor observed the line at that time and determined the line had blown," Director Robert Patton said at a news conference afterward, referring to Lockett's vein rupturing.
After that, an official who was inside the death chamber lowered the blinds, preventing those in the viewing room from seeing what was happening. Patton then made a series of phone calls before calling a halt to the execution about 20 minutes after the first drug was administered (all three drugs were administered). "After conferring with the warden, and [not knowing] how much drugs went into him, it was my decision at that time to stop the execution," Patton told reporters. He also issued a 14-day postponement in the execution of inmate Charles Warner, who had been scheduled to die two hours after Lockett was put to death. (Read more Oklahoma stories.)