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Governor's spokesman says review of Oklahoma's execution protocols could come next week


TULSA, Oklahoma — Oklahoma could release a report next week that details an investigation into the state's execution protocols after the botched lethal injection of an inmate four months ago, a spokesman for Gov. Mary Fallin said Friday.

Alex Weintz said state officials expect the report will take "a comprehensive look at what did and didn't go right" during the April 29 execution of Clayton Lockett, who took about 43 minutes to die after his lethal injection began.

An autopsy released Thursday concluded Lockett was killed by the lethal drugs — instead of a heart attack, as officials had previously said. But it didn't explain why he writhed, moaned and clenched his teeth before he was pronounced dead.

After Lockett's execution, Fallin put executions on hold and ordered public safety officials to conduct the investigation.

In Lockett's execution, Oklahoma used the sedative midazolam for the first time. The drug was also used in lengthy attempts to execute an Ohio inmate in January and an Arizona prisoner last month. Each time, witnesses said the inmates appeared to gasp after their executions began and continued to labor for air before being pronounced dead.

Midazolam is part of a three-drug and a two-drug protocol in Oklahoma. Lockett's execution used a three-drug protocol —midazolam, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride. The state also has a protocol that would use midazolam with hydromorphone, the same combination used in the problematic executions in Ohio and Arizona this year.

A spokesman for the Corrections Department, Jerry Massie, has said prison officials will have no comment until after the report is released.

Weintz's statement Friday comes amid calls by some defense attorneys and civil rights groups to make the documents public for the sake of transparency.

"The autopsy report didn't answer a critical question of what went wrong during Mr. Lockett's execution, said assistant federal public defender Dale Baich, who represents death row prisoners.

Virginia Sloan, president of The Constitution Project, a Washington-based bipartisan nonprofit that studies the death penalty, among other issues, said plenty of questions remain surrounding Lockett's execution, such as if the drugs worked the way they were supposed to, where the drugs came from and who administered them.

"If we are going to have lethal injection, we have to have transparency and accountability," Sloan said.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma City Republican Rep. Mike Christian plans a hearing in September to study alternatives to Oklahoma's current method of executing death row inmates.

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