Oklahoma executioners failed to place an injection line properly in a vein in the groin of Clayton Lockett, according to an independent autopsy commissioned by Lockett's defense lawyers after his bungled execution drew wide attention to the problems of lethal injection.
The finding, released Friday, may explain why Lockett was not completely sedated, then writhed and moaned in apparent agony before dying of heart failure 43 minutes after the procedure began.
The finding contradicts the claim by Oklahoma prison officials that Lockett's vein had collapsed or "blown," as one described it. Instead, the new report indicates that Lockett's femoral vein, located deep below the surface of the groin, was punctured by inexpert probing and that the execution drugs were not pumped directly into the bloodstream.
The state commissioned an autopsy, sending Lockett's body to the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas for examination, but the results have not been released. Gov. Mary Fallin also asked the chief of public safety to conduct a broad review of what went wrong on April 29 and whether execution procedures should be overhauled.
A spokesman for Fallin, Alex Weintz, said that the official review continued and that while officials had not seen the independent autopsy report, "it seems to verify what we already knew — there was a problem administering the IV."