US death penalty: Supreme Court to decide lethal injection case

US high court last week allowed Oklahoma execution to go on, despite questions over drugs used

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The Independent US

The US Supreme Court revealed on Friday that it would look into lethal injections in Oklahoma, just a week after it allowed the execution of a man in that state, despite questions about the deadly drugs combined for the lethal injections.

The Oklahoma case was brought by three death row inmates in the state who say that lethal injections violate the US Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, according to a report from Reuters. All three of the inmates who brought the case are scheduled to be put to death within the next two months.

Questions have surrounded the three-drug lethal injection process used in Oklahoma since April 2014, when the state botched the execution of convicted murderer Clayton Lockett. Execution officials had a difficult time placing Lockett’s IV for the injection and it took 43 minutes for him to die, during which he was seen writing in pain, according to reports of the incident.

An investigation into Lockett’s execution revealed that it wasn’t the drugs that caused the slow, painful death, but the IV connection. Still, the state altered its lethal injection procedure following the Lockett debacle.

The Lockett case brought up questions of whether the Supreme Court would halt further executions in Oklahoma, pending a procedural review. On 15 January, the Supreme Court declined to halt the execution of Charles Warner, who was convicted of raping and murdering an 11-month-old baby.

The inmates who brought the case before the high court are Richard Glossip, John Grant and Benjamin Cole. Glossip is slated to be killed on 29 January for arranging the murder of his former boss. Grant’s execution is scheduled for 19 February, after he was convicted of stabbing a correctional officer to death. Cole, who is to be killed on 5 March, was convicted of killing his 9-month-old daughter.

It was not immediately clear if the Supreme Court would halt any of the three executions while it’s waiting to hear the case, which is to be argued on April, with a decision expected before July.


Follow Payton Guion on Twitter @PaytonGuion.