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WRONG DRUG USED?

Warner Given Potassium Not In Protocol?

The wrong form of potassium was used to execute baby rapist and killer Charles Frederick Warner in January, according to state records.

Oklahoma Department of Corrections officials used bottles labeled potassium acetate for the final drug during the Jan. 15 lethal injection, and that was in violation of protocol, the records indicate. Officials were supposed to use potassium chloride to stop Mr. Warner’s heart.

The same wrong drug was delivered to corrections officials Sept. 30 for the scheduled lethal injection that day of another convicted murderer, Richard Glossip. Gov. Mary Fallin, granted a last-minute stay after learning of the mix-up.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt then launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr. Glossip’s execution. Yesterday,, he confirmed the investigation will cover any previous drug mistake.

“I want to assure the public that our investigation will be full, fair and complete, and includes not only actions on Sept. 30, but any and all actions prior, relevant to the use of potassium acetate and potassium chloride,” Attorney General Pruitt said. The revelation of yet another issue in an Oklahoma execution could impact the future of the death penalty in the state.

State officials already have faced increased court scrutiny—and international ridicule--because of problems in previous executions. Robert Patton, director of the corrections department, declined on Wednesday to discuss Mr. Warner’s execution.

“As you are aware, the attorney general has opened an investigation. Out of respect for that investigation, we will not be commenting at this time,” he said in an e-mail. Fallin said Wednesday night she fully supports an inquiry into Warner’s execution, too.

“It is imperative that the attorney general obtain the information he needs to make sure justice is served competently and fairly,” she said in an e-mail. “Until we have complete confidence in the system, we will delay any further executions.” She said she and the attorney general delayed Glossip’s execution Sept. 30 as a precaution even though the doctor working with corrections officials and the pharmacist agreed potassium chloride and potassium acetate are medically interchangeable. “The active ingredient is potassium, which, when injected in large quantities, stops the heart,” the governor said.

She said “it became apparent” during the discussions Sept. 30 about a delay that the Corrections Department may have used potassium acetate in Warner’s execution. “I was not aware nor was anyone in my office aware of that possibility until the day of Richard Glossip’s scheduled execution,” she said.

Fallin on Tuesday said she has hired an outside attorney “to look at the whole process” and advise her.

Potassium chloride has long been the last of three drugs used for lethal injections in Oklahoma. The corrections department protocol requires the potassium chloride to be split into two syringes. Under the protocol, the total dose of potassium chloride to be used in a lethal injection is “240 milliequivalents.”

The drug vials and syringes used in Warner’s execution were submitted to the Office of Chief Medical Examiner after his death. Two of the syringes were labeled with white tape “120 mEq Potassium Chloride,” his autopsy report shows. However, the 12 empty vials used to fill the syringes are labeled “20mL single dose Potassium Acetate Injection, USP 40 mEq\2mEq\mL,” the autopsy report shows.

Mr. Warner, 47, is the last murderer to be executed at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. He raped and murdered an 11-month-old girl in Oklahoma City in 1997.

He was put to death almost nine months after mistakes were made in the execution of murderer Clayton Lockett.

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