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Judge rules Oklahoma can continue lethal injections

Posted at 10:24 AM, Jun 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-06 18:26:34-04

MCALESTER, Okla. — A U.S. District Court judge ruled Monday that Oklahoma can continue with its executions by lethal injection.

Judge Stephen Friot ruled that the inmates in this case "have fallen well short" of proving that the method of execution violates their constitutional rights. Friot's decision comes several years after the original lawsuit filing in 2014.

The state since halted executions due to botched procedures, and restarted executions in 2021 — killing four death row inmates before the nonjury trial in this case got underway on Feb. 28. The list of plaintiffs included 28 inmates at the time of the trial.

Friot said the evidence presented after the execution of John Grant — one of four men executed since the state lifted its moratorium — wasn't enough to show that the process was flawed. The state considered Grant's execution to be carried out "without complication" despite witnesses saying he convulsed and vomited:

"...Grant’s substantial intake of food and beverages in the hours before he was executed would naturally have predisposed him to loss of gastric contents–regardless of whether midazolam was a causal factor–while he lay on the gurney, (ii) whether it was vomiting or something more passive, the fact and cause of the loss of gastric contents is of no moment, in the context of the issues in this case, if this all occurred after Grant had been rendered insensate by midazolam, (iii) there would in any event remain a question as to whether the vomiting, alone or in combination with aspiration of gastric contents in the few minutes before death, would amount to the severe pain and suffering which the Supreme Court has said must be proven in a method-of-execution challenge, and (iv) there would in any event remain a question as to whether this episode, during the John Grant execution, even if it entailed the requisite severity of pain and suffering, is something that is 'sure or very likely'..."

The state has not scheduled its next execution.

See Friot's full explanation:

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