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Earlier this month, Oklahoma halted all executions in the state after it nearly executed death row inmate Richard Glossip using the wrong drug, and one that's not allowed by its own execution protocol. Today, the Oklahoman reports that the state had already made that same error in the execution of another inmate, Charles Warner, in January—it just didn't notice.
The state halted Glossip's execution last week after an executioner discovered that the vial of a drug thought to be potassium chloride, which is used in the three-drug cocktail to stop an inmate's heart, actually contained potassium acetate, a different, less potent drug that's not allowed by the state's written protocol. After discovering the mix-up, the state attorney general asked the courts to stay all the executions currently scheduled until officials could investigate further.
As it turned out, state officials had already used the potassium acetate once before, in the execution of Warner, a man who was convicted in 2003 of raping and murdering an 11-month-old baby. Autopsy records show that the syringes used on Warner were labeled as containing potassium chloride, but in fact had been filled from vials of potassium acetate, a substitution that was not indicated in the corrections department execution logs. Dr. Mark Heath, an anesthesiologist at Columbia University and an expert on lethal injection, says, "Until today, no state has acknowledged using potassium acetate for execution by lethal injection, and no state has publicly proposed using it." The law requires the state to inform a condemned inmate if it plans to change the execution protocol. It appears that this didn't happen in Warner's case...............
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