Just 180 minutes from execution, Oklahoma death row inmate Richard Glossip has been granted a two-week stay of execution.
On Tuesday, Glossip’s legal team reportedly presented Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin newly uncovered evidence they believe proves their client’s innocence. Fallin denied their request for a stay, but urged them to go to a court of law, and after filing a successor petition with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals got their stay just before deadline.
None of which relates to the controversy around how Glossip is set to die: He’ll be the first Oklahoma inmate put to death since a split Supreme Court ruled in June that the “execution drug” midazolam could be used. The drug’s been under increased scrutiny since Clayton Lockett set a record as the victim of the longest execution in U.S. history — a painful 43 minutes strapped to the gurney before finally expiring of a heart attack. A state probe claimed it was a problem with the IV line insertion. “I am worried they will botch it again,” Glossip told CNN.
Midazolam is a sedative in a three-drug execution cocktail, and a main component in why inmates are arguing it’s “chemical torture.”
Last month, a federal judge in Mississippi temporarily froze that state’s executions over concern for the drug’s effectiveness. It’s supposed to induce unconsciousness by slowing brain activity, but in a case in Ohio, an inmate actually started snoring and choking after authorities believed he’d been knocked out. If the drug can’t do what authorities say it does, an inmate could feel the extreme pain of the other drugs coursing through his system, which critics call “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Glossip’s attorneys haven’t yet found a way to bargain around that.