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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A federal appeals court has upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by the brother of an Oklahoma death row inmate whose botched execution led to a moratorium while the state reconsidered its lethal injection protocols.
Convicted murderer Clayton Lockett was executed on April 29, 2014, in a procedure that took almost an hour instead of the minutes it should have taken. Lockett writhed on the gurney, mumbled and strained to lift his head before he was declared dead 43 minutes after the execution began.
Lockett's brother, Gary Lockett, sued Republican Gov. Mary Fallin and other officials, saying the execution was "barbaric" and that it violated his brother's constitutional protection from cruel and unusual punishment. The lawsuit also alleged that the execution contradicted international law and "elementary concepts of human decency."
"The barbaric spectacle was a disgrace to the people of the United States of America and brought shame to the state of Oklahoma," the lawsuit said.
An investigation determined that the execution team didn't have the proper equipment and that an intravenous line in Lockett's groin hadn't been properly set, resulting in the drugs being injected into his tissue instead of his bloodstream.
But the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that U.S District Judge Joe Heaton correctly dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that as public officials, the defendants are exempt from such lawsuits.
The U. S. Supreme Court has upheld Oklahoma's execution protocols, which were rewritten following Clayton Lockett's execution to include more training and better equipment for the execution team.
Lockett was convicted of shooting 19-year-old Stephanie Nieman with a sawed-off shotgun and watching as two accomplices buried her alive in 1999.
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