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Botched execution fuels debate for releasing drug distributors

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An execution in Oklahoma goes horribly wrong as witnesses watched.

The faulty execution is fueling the debate here in Texas to expose where the state gets its life-ending drugs.

Convicted murderer Clayton Lockett was strapped to a gurney in a prison in McAlester, Oklahoma Tuesday night. The first of three execution drugs was administered at 6:23 p.m. 16 minutes later, an Oklahoma City reporter witnessing the event noted Lockett trying to get up and saying "man." The blinds are lowered and minutes later the director of prisons says there was a vein failure.

"There was some concern at the time that the drugs were not having the effect, so the doctor observed the line and determined the line had blown," said Robert Patton, Oklahoma Department of Corrections.

At 7:06 p.m. Lockett was declared dead from a heart attack.

"I was horrified," said Kristin Houle of Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

Kristin Houle, executive director of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, says this case gives more reason for states to provide names of lethal injection drug distributors.

"We're not sure where the drugs are coming from, what dosages are going to be used, what the shelf life of the drugs are all of these things run counter to the 8th amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment," Houle said.

Lockett was one of two convicted murderers set to die Tuesday night with a new drug combination. Governor Mary Fallin halted the second execution and requested a full review of the state's execution procedures.

Texas' next execution will be on May 13.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice says, "Texas does not use the same drugs. We use a single lethal dose of pentobarbital and we have done so since 2012."

William Hubbarth, vice president of Justice for All, has zero sympathy for Lockett who officers say shot a 19-year-old woman and watched as two accomplices buried her alive.

"He put himself on that gurney, he put himself on death row," said Hubbarth.

His friend, Dirck VanTassel, was abducted leaving an Austin hotel in 1988. TDCJ records show Anthony Cook and Robert Moore drove VanTassel 50 miles before stealing his watch and wallet and shooting him four times in the head. Cook was executed in 1993. Hubbarth says it was a shame he died so peacefully.

"Most victims do not die peaceful and easily, they die in horror, they die in pain," said Hubbarth.

Hubbarth hopes the error will not prevent future executions in Oklahoma and he hopes the source of execution drugs will remain private.

"The antis have made a strong effort to once they identify who's providing the drugs they use for lawful executions of intimidating these people through various means to the point they will no longer be able supply the chemicals," said Hubbarth.

Medical examiners are now performing an autopsy on Lockett to determine exactly what happened.

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