At 6:23 PM, a medical technician began administering what was supposed to be a trio of injections to Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett, starting with the sedative midazolam, a short-acting benzo often used in medical procedures. Ten minutes later, the doctor declared that Lockett was unconscious. The next two drugs, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride, which paralyze and stop the heart, were administered in sequence.
That’s when things started to go awry. According to witnesses, Lockett’s body began to twitch, and he was heard mumbling words. Here’s an account from KFOR reporter Courtney Francisco, who was in the viewing room to witness the execution:
6:28 PM – Inmate shivering, sheet shaking. Breathing deep.
6:29 PM – Inmate blinking and gritting his teeth. Adjusts his head.
6:30 PM – Prison officials check to see if inmate is unconscious. Doctor says, “He’s not unconscious.” Inmate says, “I’m not.” Female prison official says, “Mr. Lockett is not unconscious.”
6:32 PM – Inmate’s breathing is normal, mouth open, eyes shut. For a second time, prison officials check to see if inmate is unconscious.
6:33 PM – Doctor says, “He is unconscious.” Prison official says, “Mr. Lockett is unconscious.”
At this point, the two other drugs were injected into Lockett:
6:34 PM – Inmate’s mouth twitches. No sign of breathing.
6:35 PM – Mouth movement.
6:36 PM – Inmate’s head moves from side to side, then lifts his head off the bed.
6:37 PM – Inmate lifts his head and feet slightly off the bed. Inmate tries to say something, mumbles while moving body.
6:38 pm – More movement by the inmate. At this point the inmate is breathing heavily and appears to be struggling.
6:39 PM – Inmate tries to talk. Says, “Man” and appears to be trying to get up. Doctor checks on inmate. Female prison official says, “We are going to lower the blinds temporarily.” Prison phone rings. Director of Prisons Robert Patton answers the phone and leaves the room—taking three state officials with him.
A little after 6:40, Patton, the director of Oklahoma’s Department of Corrections, came into the viewing room to announce that a stay had been issued for Lockett’s execution. About 25 minutes later, at 7:06 pm, Lockett died of cardiac arrest, according to a statement from Oklahoma DOC spokesperson Jerry Massie. “We believe that a vein was blown and the drugs weren’t working the way as they were designed to,” Massie wrote. “The director ordered a halt to the execution.”
This Death Row Inmate Is Dying to Donate His Organs
In 2001 Christian Longo killed his wife and his three young children and fled to Mexico. Once he was brought back to the US, he was convicted of those murders and placed on Oregon’s Death Row, where he has resided since 2003. He was once on the FBI’s top-ten most wanted list, and James Franco is even going to play him in an upcoming movie.
Christian, now 40 and still in jail, is turning a new leaf. In an effort to give back to his community, he has decided to donate his organs upon his inevitable execution. The only problem is, due to the lack of an efficient prisoner donation protocol, he pretty much can’t. Chris is even willing to forgo all appeals of his death sentence if he can donate his organs upon his execution. Still, he’s been denied.
Through his Gifts of Anatomical Value from Everyone (G.A.V.E) organization, Chris is looking to change that. The mission of G.A.V.E is to remove the medical and ethical issues involved with prisoner organ and tissue donation and gain approval for some of the 2 million incarcerated individuals to donate. If successful, the organization will substantially reduce the number of people on waiting lists for organ and tissue donation (which is more than 121,000, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network).
I recently conducted an email interview with Longo about how he came to found G.A.V.E, the work his organization is doing, and the impact prisoner donation could have if certain ethical and political barriers were removed.
VICE: What piqued your interest in prisoner organ donation?
Christian Longo: After watching a friend increasingly suffer from a degenerative disorder called scleroderma, it became apparent she would eventually need a kidney transplant. After being told by my prison system that consideration may only be given for donations to immediate family, I put together a proposal for my unique circumstances as a death row inmate. I offered to end my remaining appeals and face execution if my healthy body parts were able to be donated to those in need. My request was denied.
How surprising was it to find out you couldn’t donate?
It was a Spockian “that’s illogical” moment followed by a fear that someone I cared about might not be able to find a suitable donor… which pissed me off.
Photos of Death Row Inmates’ Last Meals
VICE: Hey Henry. So what made you start photographing serial killer’s last meals?
Henry Hargreaves: I’m really interested in people’s choices with food. It’s one of those things that everyone does several times a day, but you never really see it out of context or think about what it says about someone. I was reading about a campaign to abolish the last meal in Texas, so I went online and researched it. And as I was reading through these records, I felt that I could identify with these people for a brief moment just from what they ordered.
Do you think the meals offer a window into the psyche of the condemned?
I think in general—yes, definitely. The thing that kind of struck me with these last meals was how many of them were these big, deep fried meals, which we like to call comfort food. Here were these people in their last moments and all they really want was a little bit of comfort.
Is the project a statement about the death penalty?
Yeah. I mean, I’m from New Zealand, and when I came to America the death penalty struck me as a really inhumane thing. It’s seen by most of the world as this outdated, barbaric act. And it’s strange that it still exists in a country that spends so much time advertising their democracy and morals to the rest of the world. In the process of researching the project, I came across claims that reckon there’s about 12 people over the last 20 years who have been executed falsely in America. That’s only hearsay of course, but those people are still gone and they have no hope of a retrial.
A few months ago, a death-row inmate from Nevada sent our music editor, Kelly McClure, a fan letter. His name is Scott Dozier, and he seems like a nice guy on paper—on the other hand, he did steal $12,000 from a dude who had brought the cash to buy stuff to make meth, then shot him, hacked the body into two pieces, and put it into a suitcase. He also killed another man in 2002, and they never found that guy’s head or arms. So just keep that in mind when you read the excerpt from his fan letter below.
Dear Ms. McClure,
You are hilarious and awesome and I love you, not, however, like you’d reasonably (and correctly the vast majority of the time) presume someone on death row means when they say they “love” you.
You’ve made it plain you’re a lesbian—which is terrific, but again, not like you’d reasonably presume when someone on death row says, “Gee… I think it’s terrific you’re a lesbian.” (I guess I can reasonably presume you’re not the same Kelly McClure from Boulder City, NV, who shared her virginity with me in the shower at Jeff Yinger’s house in the summer of ’85 for two reasons: I) I can’t imagine you’re old enough. II) you’re a lesbian… although she did play softball…)
If you’ve ever had even the most remote personal or journalistic interest about life on death row, living as a “condemned to die” individual, associations or dynamics therein from someone who is not a creep… I’m your guy.
I’ve written the magazine before to no avail, and will likely continue to until the government-sanctioned murder of my corporeal being (and maybe my “soul” too, guess we’ll see ϑ), as I’ve got a surplus of time on my hands and a catastrophic dearth of intelligence, hilarity, and awesomeness. I can only draw and work out so much.
If you’re interested you can check out my “fit for public consumption” pastels at/on my Facebook page/wall (whatever the frick it’s called). No (in the event you’re wondering), I do not have FB/computer access, it’s managed by my sister and a friend.
My most sincere thanks for the little taste I get monthly, the mag rocks way hard ass, I love it (and yes I’d marry it). I read it cover to cover at least three times and wait with bated breath for the next issue to arrive.
Be nice to yourself, all my very, very best
Bring a box of tissues and read more from our Hopelessness Issue:
Killers on Death Row Love VICE’s Kelly McClure
Oh hey, it’s me, Kelly McClure, Music Editor and butthole expert for VICE. I just have something I’d like to talk to you about real quick. Are you busy? Okay. Do you need a beverage or a snack? Have a seat.
Not sure if you caught our last issue, The Hopelessness Issue, but towards the front of it we ran an excerpt from a letter I received in the mail in September. The letter was from a man named Scott Dozier who is currently living out a life sentence on death row at Ely State Prison in Nevada. Dozier was convicted of murdering a guy for drug reasons, dismembering him, and stashing the guy’s torso in a suitcase, which he then threw into a dumpster. The guy’s head, lower arms, and lower legs were never recovered. AND WE’RE IN LOVE!
In Scott’s first letter to me, he wondered if I was the same girl who’s virginity he took in a shower somewhere in his hometown many years ago, who (and I don’t believe this) shared my first and last name. In case you all were wondering, I’m not that girl. Today, after returning back to the VICE office after our week long holiday break, I was pleased (as in horrified) to see that Scott had sent me a new, four page letter. He took some time with this one, both emotionally, as well as creatively.
The bulk of the letter was Scott thanking me/us for writing about him in the issue, and saying how he KNOWS that us/me writing about him does not mean that I am looking to strike up a relationship with him in any way (!!!!!!!!!), but the take away quote has got to be this:
"When they slip the needles into my strapped down arm, and I tell them with the utmost sincerity and honest, warm smile: "ya’ll have a good day, alright." My last thought will be "and I got published in VICE."
So, I guess I should stop spending my work days bitching about how it’s cold in here, the bathrooms stink, and there’s never any coffee or cups, because there’s a guy out there who’d give anything to be in (or hack off) my shoes.