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Autopsy: Wrong Drug Was Used To Execute Charles Warner

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Charles Frederick Warner's autopsy showed potassium acetate was used during the Jan. 15 execution along with the only state-approved potassium; potassium chloride. Charles Frederick Warner's autopsy showed potassium acetate was used during the Jan. 15 execution along with the only state-approved potassium; potassium chloride.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

More controversy came to light Thursday over Oklahoma’s embattled death penalty protocol.  

Charles Frederick Warner's autopsy showed potassium acetate was used during the Jan. 15 execution along with the only state-approved potassium; potassium chloride.

According to the state medical examiner’s office, 12 empty vials of potassium acetate were collected among the personal affects collected after Warner’s execution. Three empty vials of potassium chloride were also collected.

However, the toxicology report attached to the autopsy did not test for potassium chloride or for potassium acetate. The only drug involved in the state’s three-drug execution regimen was Midazolam. Midazolam acts as a paralytic.

10/8/2015 Related Story: Fallin: State May Have Used Wrong Drug To Execute Charles Warner

Warner was convicted of raping and killing an 11-month-year-old girl in 1997 and spent 12 years on death row. During his execution, he said he was “burning," "it feels like acid," "[and] no one should go through this.”

Gov. Mary Fallin said the Department of Corrections knew about the use of acetate.

In a statement, Fallin said DOC officials were told by their doctor and pharmacist the two drugs were medically interchangeable, but they failed to notify the governor until Sept. 30’s near-execution of Richard Glossip.  

Glossip’s execution was halted over an “abundance of caution” over the drug swap by DOC director Robert Patton.

“During the discussion of the delay of the execution, it became apparent that DOC may have used potassium acetate in the execution of Charles Warner in January of this year. I was not aware nor was anyone in my office aware of that possibility until the day of Richard Glossip's scheduled execution,” Fallin’s statement said.

But later, she restated those events during Glossip’s near-execution at a press conference Thursday.

“The first time I heard there might be a question about what was used back in January was during that phone call with the attorney general,” Fallin said.

She said she wasn’t aware of what drugs were used in the executions.

Fallin’s statement also said she and Attorney General Scott Pruitt had decided to delay all executions until “complete confidence can be restored in the system.”

Fallin added during her press conference she had not lost confidence in Robert Patton as DOC Director and no one had offered their resignations.

This lack of communication comes less than 24-hours after Fallin hired former U.S. Attorney Robert McCampbell as an outside attorney to give legal advice on the state’s execution policies, despite the attorney general’s office opening its own investigation.

Some think his hiring signals a lack of confidence in the state’s execution protocol and the officials that carry them out.

“We've been speaking until we are blue in the face about the lack of integrity in the process,” Oklahoma ACLU legal director Brady Henderson said. “I don't think this is just an issue over what DOC did, I think this an issue over the overall process that, in theory, was just fixed and was just made better.”

Warner’s lawyers agree with Henderson.

“We cannot trust Oklahoma to get it right or to tell the truth. The state's disclosure that it used potassium acetate raises serious questions about the ability of Oklahoma's Department of Corrections to carry out execution," Warner's attorney Dale Baich said.

“…the Attorney General’s office has opened an inquiry. Out of respect for that inquiry we will not [be] [sic] making any comment at this time," Patton said in a statement Thursday.

Pruitt’s office has repeatedly said they have opened an investigation.

“The State has a strong interest in ensuring that the execution protocol is strictly followed. I want to assure the public that our investigation will be full, fair and complete and include not only actions on Sept. 30, but any and all actions prior, relevant to the use of potassium acetate and potassium chloride,” Pruitt said.

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