The Slatest

Oklahoma Accidentally Executed Someone in January With the Wrong Drug

Protesters outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Sept. 29 in Washington, D.C. Richard Glossip’s scheduled Oklahoma execution was postponed because the state does not have potassium chloride, one of the drugs called for in its death-penalty protocol; inmate Charles Warner was somehow killed on Jan. 15 with potassium acetate rather than potassium chloride.

Photo by Larry French/Getty Images for

The state of Oklahoma killed a man named Charles Warner on Jan. 15 with the wrong drug, the Oklahoman reported today. Warner, who was convicted for the 1997 rape and murder of an 11-month-old girl, died after a seemingly uneventful 18-minute procedure that apparently involved the use of potassium acetate rather than the potassium chloride which is called for in the state’s execution protocol. The acetate/chloride distinction became public news on Sept. 30 when governor Mary Fallin cited the state’s failure to obtain potassium chloride in calling for an unexpected stay of execution for Richard Glossip. (Glossip is a convicted murderer who many observers believe may be innocent and who actually lost a Supreme Court case relating to a different drug in Oklahoma’s so-called lethal-injection cocktail.)

Charles Warner’s execution was the first in Oklahoma since the controversial botched killing of Clayton Lockett on April 29, 2014, during which Lockett (in the AP’s words) “writhed, clenched his teeth and appeared to struggle” over the course of 40 minutes before dying of a heart attack. The Oklahoman’s story today doesn’t mention Lockett, but does quote state attorney general Scott Pruitt as saying he is investigating “not only actions on Sept. 30, but any and all actions prior, relevant to the use of potassium acetate and potassium chloride.”