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Okla. AG agrees to 6-month execution delay

The Oklahoma attorney general agreed Thursday to delay the execution of Charles F. Warner by six months, to allow time for a review of lethal injection procedures that was started after a bungled execution last week left a prisoner writhing in pain before he died of heart failure.

In a brief filed with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, an assistant attorney general, Seth S. Branham, said that the state “will not object” to a 180-day stay to allow for completion of the inquiry. The court must issue the stay.

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Warner, who was convicted of the rape and murder of an 11-month-old girl, was scheduled to die April 29, two hours after the execution of another convicted murderer, Clayton D. Lockett. The executions had been the subject of last-minute legal battles, with lawyers for the two prisoners objecting because the state had refused to reveal the source of the drugs it would use.

Soon after Lockett’s execution began, it was apparent to witnesses that he had not been fully sedated as two follow-up drugs, one that causes paralysis and stops breathing and one intended to stop the heart, were injected. As he began to buck and moan in apparent agony, officials pulled the blinds on witnesses. The intravenous delivery of the drugs had failed, officials later said, and Lockett died of heart failure 43 minutes after the procedure began.

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