Court: Botched Execution Was 'Innocent Misadventure'

Clayton Lockett's execution lasted 43 'horribly painful' minutes
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 16, 2016 2:02 PM CST
Court: Botched Execution Was 'Innocent Misadventure'
Clayton Lockett   (AP Photo/Oklahoma Department of Corrections, File)

In dismissing his family's lawsuit Tuesday, an appeals court called the 43-minute-long botched execution of Clayton Lockett—during which he regained consciousness and thrashed around—an "innocent misadventure," Tulsa World reports. Lockett, a convicted murderer, was executed in 2014 in Oklahoma. According to Slate, a drug meant to knock him out was improperly administered, and the following two drugs meant to paralyze him and stop his heart very likely caused a conscious Lockett "immense pain." He was able to raise his head during the procedure, uttering his final words: "Something's wrong." The trio of drugs given to Lockett had never been used before, and his family sued, claiming he was the victim of "torture and human medical experimentation."

But while the court admits Lockett's execution was "unnecessarily prolonged and horribly painful," it ruled that his constitutional rights were not violated, KFOR reports. It calls the botched execution "the sort of 'innocent misadventure' or 'isolated mishap'" that, per the Supreme Court, does not fit the definition of cruel and unusual punishment, and notes that "some risk of pain is inherent in any method of execution." It also argues the pain wasn't intentionally inflected. To bolster its ruling, the court cited a US Supreme Court decision from 1890. Slate calls the ruling "especially disturbing" and "especially perverse." It reports another court ruling allowing state's to keep their execution drugs secret means more botched executions are likely in the future. (More Clayton Lockett stories.)

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