Witness To The Execution

Friday, June 20th 2008, 6:43 pm
By: News 9

I don't know what I was expecting when I went into the death chamber Tuesday night. 

I, along with other four other members of the media, filed into the hot, cramped room at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary to watch Terry Lyn Short's execution.

It sounds ghoulish, watching a person being put to death. My mother was horrified. News 9 Photographer, Ken Kilbourn wanted no parts of it.  But my curiosity was piqued. How exactly would this all unfold? Was it cruel and unusual punishment, contrary to a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling?

We were all seated about 5:45p.m., minutes before the execution was to begin.  Short's family came in after us and occupied at least five seats in front of the media.

The blinds were drawn and Short was strapped to a gurney of sorts, his hands strapped to his side. He lifted his head and nodded to his family who mouthed "I love you" back at him.

At 6pm, he was asked if he had any final words. "I have nothing to say," Short responded. From there, the execution began.

At 6:01pm, sodium thiopental flowed into Short's veins and lulled him into unconsciousness. Two minutes later, vecuronium bromide, which stops respiration was administered.

By 6:05pm, you could hear a loud gurgling sound coming from Short, followed by a dose of potassium chloride to stop him heart. And just three minutes later a doctor walked over to his still body, checked his vitals and then announced "Time of death: 6:08pm."

The blinds were then closed as Short's family sobbed and wiped away tears.  Minutes later, they left the room.  We followed a few minutes later.

Officials told me that an execution by lethal injection is the most uneventful thing you could witness. Somehow, I think the Short family would disagree.