Oklahoma’s executioners accidentally killed Clayton D. Lockett last night while trying to put him to death.
If I’m certain of anything, I’m certain that dozens (hundreds?) of other journalists seized on the travesty, the tragedy, the ineptitude and the torture of Lockett to either commit similar words to print or compose a similar passage in their heads while taking a shower this morning and cursing themselves for not having been assigned to the spectacular death show.
Lockett, who earned his spot in the queue for shooting a 19-year-old woman and burying her alive in 1999, escaped death by lethal injection because the intravenous line that was supposed to feed the life-taking drugs to his system failed.
“The line had blown,” director of corrections Robert Patton said at a press conference later, and a “vein failure” was discovered. Patton halted the execution, but to no avail. Instead of dying from a stopped heart in response to a lethal three-drug cocktail, Lockett, 38, writhing on his gurney, died from a heart-attack 43 minutes after his execution started and about 20 minutes after it was stopped.
Reporters love covering executions because they’re the journalistic equivalent of paint-by-numbers painting. As long as you have the stomach for watching one, your story will be published and read widely. There are so many elements to play with! Like sporting events, to which they can be compared, executions tend to generate both pre-game and post-mortem (sorry!) coverage.