The Norman Transcript

State/Region

June 10, 2014

Okla. inmate’s body returned without heart

OKLAHOMA CITY — The body of an Oklahoma inmate who died after a botched execution of what corrections officials have said was an apparent heart attack was returned from an independent autopsy without the heart or larynx, a state medical official said Monday.

The Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office, which is conducting an independent autopsy on the body of inmate Clayton Lockett, retained the body parts, a practice that is not uncommon, said Amy Elliott, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office.

David Autry, Lockett’s attorney, said a private doctor is working to complete a second autopsy and has asked Dallas County to preserve all evidence in the case, including the heart and larynx.

“I assume they retained those for additional testing, but we’ve asked them to preserve all the evidence,” Autry said.

Lockett’s body has been returned to his family and cremated, Autry said.

Dr. Amy Gruszecki, the medical director of American Forensics, said doctors conducting the autopsy likely found something specific with the heart and larynx that they wanted to further document.

Lockett died after his April 29 execution was halted when prison officials noted the lethal injection drugs weren’t being administered properly. The doctor inside the death chamber reported a single IV in Lockett’s groin became dislodged and the lethal drugs went into his tissue or leaked out of his body.

Oklahoma was using a new three-drug method for the first time, and Lockett writhed on the gurney, gritted his teeth and attempted to lift his head several times before the state’s prison director halted the execution. Lockett died anyway, about 43 minutes from what prison officials have said was an apparent heart attack.

Gov. Mary Fallin has ordered an investigation into Lockett’s death, and the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals has issued a six-month stay of execution for a second inmate who was scheduled to die on the same night as Lockett.

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