Autopsy Contradicts State on Botched Execution

It wasn't a blown vein; IV wasn't inserted properly
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2014 9:36 AM CDT
Autopsy Contradicts State on Botched Execution
This 2011 file photo provided by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections shows Clayton Lockett.   (AP Photo/Oklahoma Department of Corrections, File)

After the botched execution of Clayton Lockett, Oklahoma officials said that he hadn't received the proper doses of lethal drugs because a vein collapsed. But an independent autopsy contradicts that conclusion, reports the New York Times. The problem wasn't with Lockett's veins—in fact, they were found to be healthy—but instead with the medical team trying to insert an IV line. After repeated failed attempts to insert it into his arms, legs, and feet, a supervising doctor ordered the line to be placed in his femoral vein, located in the groin. That's a tricky procedure requiring "serious medical expertise," explains Mother Jones, and it seems the team didn't pull it off correctly.

The autopsy suggests that the catheter punctured the vein and never adequately delivered the drugs. They "likely leaked into his surrounding tissues rather than going directly into his bloodstream, causing a much more prolonged death," writes Time. When it was clear that Lockett wasn't being property sedated, officials stopped the procedure, but Lockett died about 45 minutes later of what Oklahoma officials call a heart attack. The autopsy didn't weigh in on his cause of death, reports AP. An official state review into the matter is still underway. (More Clayton Lockett stories.)

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