After an almost nine-month hiatus, Oklahoma plans to execute an inmate on Thursday, within hours of when Florida is scheduled to put a prisoner to death using the same lethal injection drugs.
Charles Frederick Warner, 47, who raped and killed an 11-month-old girl, is scheduled to die at 6 p.m. CST, Aaron Cooper, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office, said in an email Thursday. Warner and three other Oklahoma inmates have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to delay the executions because there are questions about midazolam, one of the drugs in the three-drug cocktail used for executions.
Citing past problems in executions by lethal injection in the state and elsewhere, Oklahoma has said it will increase the amount of the drug to be given to Warner in an effort to prevent the kind of problems that plagued the April execution of Clayton Lockett. Lockett reportedly writhed on the gurney, moaned and tried to lift his head after he'd been declared unconscious, prompting prison officials to try to halt his execution before he died.
Oklahoma officials later blamed the problems on a failed intravenous line to administer the drug and a lack of training, but they exonerated the drugs used. Still, officials late last year said they would increase the dosage fivefold, bringing it up to the same level used in other states, including Florida.
Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton at the end of December told a federal judge that Oklahoma would use the same formula and dosage that Florida has utilized in 11 executions. The Oklahoma chief described the procedure as humane.
The issue of how inmates are executed and whether the existing drug protocols lead to constitutionally-prohibited cruel and unusual punishment have been widely debated since a series of executions in which prisoners seemed to suffer.
According to reports from the execution rooms, Dennis McGuire made snorting noises for over 20 minutes during his execution in Ohio in January. Joseph Wood took nearly two hours to die last year in an Arizona execution.
Both executions, along with Lockett’s, involved midazolam.
Oklahoma Atty. Gen. Scott Pruitt has said the state Department of Corrections “has responded with new protocols that I believe, prayerfully, will provide them more latitude in dealing with exigent circumstances as they arise.” His office has successfully defended Oklahoma's new protocol in federal court, leading to the latest appeal to the nation’s top court.
Warner, who is scheduled to be executed at in McAlester, Okla., was convicted of first-degree murder and rape of his roommate's daughter, 11-month-old Adriana Waller, in 1997 in Oklahoma City. A coroner's report says the girl suffered multiple injuries and died with a crushed skull, a fractured jaw, three broken ribs, a lacerated liver and a bruised spleen.
Warner said someone else could have harmed the child and denied being responsible. He has called the death “a terrible tragedy.”
Oklahoma's parole board in March denied clemency and Warner was scheduled to be executed on April 29. He was waiting to be escorted to the death chamber when the Lockett execution was botched that same night and Oklahoma put all executions on hold.
Johnny Shane Kormondy is scheduled to be executed at 6 p.m EST in Starke, Fla. He was convicted of murdering a Pensacola, Fla., man and raping his wife.
Kormondy and two other men were charged with killing Gary McAdams in 1993 with a gunshot to the back of his head during a home-invasion robbery and the rape of his wife. It happened after the couple returned home from their high school reunion.
Kormondy's accomplices received life prison terms and Kormandy, who was identified as the ringleader, was sentenced to death.
The defense has argued that Kormondy should also get life in prison.