McALESTER, Okla. (AP) – Oklahoma has executed a death row inmate for killing a baby in 1997 in the state’s first lethal injection since a botched one last spring.
Prison officials declared Charles Frederick Warner dead at 5:28 p.m. PST Thursday.
“Before I give my final statement, I’ll tell you they poked me five times. It hurt. It feels like acid,” Warner said before the execution began. He added, “I’m not a monster. I didn’t do everything they said I did.”
After the first drug was administered, Warner said, “My body is on fire.” But he showed no obvious signs of distress.
Witnesses said they saw slight twitching in Warner’s neck about three minutes after the lethal injection began. The twitching lasted about seven minutes until he stopped breathing.
It was the second time Oklahoma used the sedative midazolam as part of a three-drug method, which had been challenged by Warner and other death row inmates as presenting an unconstitutional risk of pain and suffering.
The execution came after a divided U.S. Supreme Court said it wouldn’t consider whether a sedative given to the inmate would be strong enough to render him so unconscious that he wouldn’t feel other drugs stop his lungs and heart.
Justices voted 5-4 against intervening in the case of Warner. He was convicted in the rape and beating death of his roommate’s 11-month-old daughter.
Warner, 47, was originally scheduled to be executed in April on the same night as Clayton Lockett, who began writhing on the gurney, moaning and trying to lift his head after he’d been declared unconscious.
A Florida execution using the same method as Oklahoma’s was carried out prior to Warner’s after being temporarily put on hold when the condemned killer in that case raised similar questions with justices.
Florida executed Johnny Shane Kormondy, 42, for killing a man during a 1993 home-invasion robbery in Pensacola.
Oklahoma used the same three-drug method as Florida. Both states planned to start their executions with midazolam.
Oklahoma increased by five times the amount of the sedative it planned to use to mirror the exact recipe that Florida had used in 11 successful executions.
Midazolam also was used in problematic executions last year in Arizona and Ohio, however. Inmates snorted and gasped during those lethal injections that took longer than expected.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has acknowledged that midazolam is not Oklahoma’s first choice to be used in lethal injections. But he said prison officials have been unable to secure other, more effective drugs because the manufacturers oppose their use in executions.
After Lockett’s execution was botched, a state investigation determined that a single intravenous line failed and that the drugs were administered locally instead of directly into his bloodstream.
Since then, Oklahoma has ordered new medical equipment such as backup IV lines and an ultrasound machine for finding veins, and renovated the execution chamber with new audio and video equipment to help the execution team spot potential problems.