Executions In Oklahoma: What's Next?
McALESTER, Oklahoma - Justice Sotomayor wrote an eight page dissent on the ruling that allowed the execution of Charles Warner. But that same dissent could have also paved the way for stays on future executions.
Twenty minutes after originally scheduled, the Department of Corrections received the final clearance to execute convicted murderer Charles Warner. The state was legally allowed to use a new three-drug cocktail.
The cocktail had five times the amount of midazolam as April's delayed execution.
Sean Murphy with the Associated Press was a witness to the execution. Before the drug was administered, Warner gave his final statement.
“'I love everybody. Thank you. It feels like acid.'” Murphy said, quoting Warner. “Mr. Warner said my body is on fire.”
Warner's eyes closed after the drug was administered and he had no movement until he was announced dead 18 minutes later. To some the process was less problematic compared to the last execution, but not to Warner's attorneys.
"There is still a fight in Oklahoma. This doesn't end the efforts of Oklahoma to use of midazolam. Midazolam is not the right drug to use in executions it's not an anesthetic," said Warner's attorney Madeline Cohen.
In Justice Sotomayor's dissent on the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling, she acknowledged the "Federal Drug Administration has not approved (midazolam) for use as an anesthetic" for reasons experts have testified a "patient could likely could regain consciousness."
Concerns for the state's second drug, a paralytic, were also expressed; if the inmate was in pain, he or she "may be fully conscious but unable to move," taking away the eighth amendment rights.
"I believe that if he says he felt burning, he felt burning. It's hard for us to know what he was experiencing at that time," said Cohen.
Warner's attorneys said they plan to continue the appeals of the next three executions scheduled for the next two months.
Justice Sotomayor also stated the court should review the use of midazolam with added care.
So if the court grants a review of the other appeals, the next executions could be stayed.