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  • 30 April 2014, 20:04

Killer 'Writhed In Pain' In Botched Execution

A death row prisoner started moving and mumbling 13 minutes after being given a supposedly lethal injection.

Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett had been given a controversial new cocktail of death penalty drugs and appeared unconscious before he tried to lift his head.

Doctors called a halt to the procedure but the 38-year-old, who shot a teenager and buried her alive in a shallow grave, was pronounced dead around 25 minutes later after apparently suffering a heart attack.

Witness Ziva Branstetter said Lockett was thrashing about and appeared to be in pain.

"His body was sort of bucking," she told broadcaster MSNBC.

"He was clenching his jaw. Several times he mumbled phrases that were largely unintelligible."

Richard Dieter, of the Death Penalty Information Center, which monitors capital punishment, warned Lockett's death could have major implications.

The botched execution had been put on hold for several weeks due to legal arguments over the use of the deadly cocktail.

Lawyers claim the combination of chemicals causes undue suffering and violates laws against cruel punishment.

"This could be a real turning point in the whole debate as people get disgusted by this sort of thing," Mr Dieter said.

"This might lead to a halt in executions until states can prove they can do it without problems. Someone has been killed by incompetence."

Another inmate, Charles Warner, who was due to be given a lethal injection shortly after Lockett, has been given a 14-day stay of execution while a full review is carried out.

His attorney, Madeline Cohen, said: "After weeks of Oklahoma refusing to disclose basic information about the drugs for lethal injection procedures, Mr Lockett was tortured to death."

The cocktail of drugs consists of midazolam to cause unconsciousness, vecuronium bromide to stop breathing and potassium chloride to stop the heart.

It was introduced after sales bans were slapped on previous pills by pharmaceutical companies keen to stop their medicines being used on death row.