OK AG Seeks Indefinite Execution Delay; Can State Get It Right?


Oklahoma officials considered improvising once again during an execution when they realized they had a drug not legally approved for use in lethal injections, reports The Frontier in Tulsa. Officials “briefly considered” using potassium acetate to execute Richard Glossip on Wednesday, a spokesman for Gov. Mary Fallin said. The drug is not part of Oklahoma's legally approved protocol. Now three scheduled executions could be stayed indefinitely as officials say they're investigating what went wrong this time, so Oklahoma “can properly and lawfully administer the sentence of death.” Two hours before Glossip's scheduled execution, prison staff opened a sealed box of drugs that had arrived hours earlier to find that it contained potassium acetate instead of potassium chloride. Officials repeatedly used the phrase “legal ambiguity” yesterday in reference to questions about whether the state considered substituting potassium acetate at the last minute for Glossip's execution.

Oklahoma's law has no ambiguity: Whatever chemicals the state plans to use, it must notify the offender “in writing 10 calendar days prior to the scheduled execution date.” Attorney General Scott Pruitt issued a blistering statement yesterday as he asked a court to delay three executions indefinitely: “I am mindful of the families who have suffered an agonizing time through this process, and my heart breaks for them. At least three families have waited a combined 48 years for closure and finality after losing a loved one. Yet, they deserve to know, and all Oklahomans need to know with certainty, that the system is working as intended.”

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