The Oklahoma inmate who raised questions regarding the ethics of capital punishment in the United States has returned from an autopsy without a heart or larynx, according to Yahoo News.
The man, Clayton Lockett, likely suffered a heart attack on April 29 after his planned lethal injection failed. The execution was controversial because the new combination of three drugs were not administered properly, and Lockett writhed in pain for several minutes after his execution should have been completed. According to Tulsa World, a problem with Lockett’s IV caused the drugs to leak into his tissue and out of his body. The prison director ultimately stopped the execution, but Lockett died anyways of what was initially reported as a heart attack.
Lockett had been sentenced for the murder of 19-year-old Stephanie Nieman in 1999.
His body has been sent to the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office in order to conduct an independent autopsy. The independent autopsy was called for due to the chain of connected individuals involved in Oklahoma’s government and prison system. Although it seems unusual, the practice of retaining certain body parts such as the heart and larynx is actually common.
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“Oklahoma law reads that the Office of the State Medical Examiner can retain any kind of tissue or samples indefinitely, and my understanding is it can be the same in Texas,” said Amy Elliott, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office.
The heart and larynx are likely needed for additional testing in order to ensure that the investigation is complete.
Lockett’s body has since been returned to his family and cremated.