On Friday the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case brought by 3 men on Oklahoma’s death row. They don’t want to die by the same lethal injection method that resulted in the botched execution of Clayton Lockett last April. A new drug combination, including the sedative midazolam, failed to take effect on Lockett, leading to a bloody ordeal during which the execution doctor searched for another vein, and punctured an artery. Lockett, who could be seen writhing on the gurney, ultimately died of a heart attack.
The three inmates now facing execution, Richard Glossip, John Grant and Benjamin Cole, say Oklahoma’s methods amount to cruel and unusual punishment.
The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to review Oklahoma’s method of execution by lethal injection, taking up a case brought by three death row inmates who accuse the state of violating the U.S. Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
The high court just last week allowed the execution of a convicted killer to go ahead in Oklahoma over the objection of its four liberal members.
The three-drug process used by Oklahoma prison officials for carrying out the death penalty has been widely debated since the April 2014 botched execution of inmate Clayton Lockett, a convicted murder. He could be seen twisting on the gurney after death chamber staff failed to place the IV properly.
The inmates challenging the state’s procedures argue that the sedative used by Oklahoma, midazolam, cannot achieve the level of unconsciousness required for surgery and was therefore unsuitable for executions.
Earlier this month the high court declined to stay the execution in Oklahoma of Charles Warner, who yelled, “My body is on fire” in his final moments.
Of the men who have brought this case before the Supreme Court, Reuters reports:
Glossip, who arranged for his employer to be beaten to death, is scheduled to be executed on Jan. 29. Grant, who stabbed a correctional worker to death, is due to be put to death on Feb. 19. Cole, convicted of killing his 9-month-old daughter, is scheduled to be executed on March 5.
The brief court order did not note whether the court had agreed to stay the executions.
The case will be argued in April, with a decision due by the end of June.