When guards found Robert Brecheen groggy from a drug overdose in his cell, they rushed him to a hospital and had his stomach pumped. Then they brought him back to prison, strapped him on a gurney and executed him.
“Certainly, there’s irony,” said Larry Fields, director of Oklahoma’s Corrections Department. “But we’re bound by the law, the same law that he violated.”
Under a 1986 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the condemned “has to be aware of his execution and he has to know why he is being executed,” said Sandy Howard, an assistant Oklahoma attorney general.
State Penitentiary Warden Ron Ward refused to speculate on how a man on Death Row could overdose on sedatives, and whether the 40-year-old killer was attempting suicide or just trying to delay his execution.
Brecheen was supposed to have been put to death by injection at midnight.
The execution was carried out about two hours late.