World & Nation

Oklahoma court stops three pending executions after drug glitch

Robert Patton

Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton announces on Sept. 30 that Gov. Mary Fallin had halted the scheduled execution of Richard Glossip due to a question about the execution drugs.

(Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press)

Oklahoma’s highest criminal court unanimously agreed Friday to halt all of the state’s scheduled executions after the state’s prison system received the wrong drug for a lethal injection this week.

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals granted the state’s request and issued indefinite stays of execution for Richard Glossip, Benjamin Cole and John Grant. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt requested the stays to give his office time to investigate why the Oklahoma Department of Corrections received the wrong drug just hours before Glossip was scheduled to be executed Wednesday.

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Just hours before Glossip was set to die, prison officials opened a box of lethal drugs and realized they received potassium acetate instead of potassium chloride, the third drug utilized in Oklahoma’s lethal injection formula.


The court ordered the state for status reports every 30 days, “including any proposed adjustments to the execution protocol.”

Oklahoma’s execution protocols were overhauled after last year’s botched execution of Clayton Lockett, who writhed on a gurney and struggled against his restraints before being declared dead more than 40 minutes after the procedure began.

On Thursday, Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton insisted that those new protocols were properly followed. But the attorney general expressed concerns about the department’s ability to properly carry out an execution.

“Until my office knows more about these circumstances and gains confidence that DOC can carry out executions in accordance with the execution protocol, I am asking the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to issue an indefinite stay of all scheduled executions,” Pruitt said in a statement after requesting the stays.



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