Oklahoma is set to execute child rapist and murderer Charles Warner at 6 PM CT. At 6 PM ET, Florida is expected to execute a man for murdering a Pensacola banker and sexually assaulting his wife in a 1993 home invasion.
Warner will be the first prisoner executed in Oklahoma since the state overhauled its death chamber protocols following the botched execution of Clayton Lockett.
Convicted of rape, murder and kidnapping, Locket was 38 years old when he was injected with an untested mixture of drugs never before administered in an execution. The result was Locket regaining consciousness minutes into the execution and writhing in pain. He died of cardiac arrest after about 45 minutes after first being sedated.
The debacle led Oklahoma to stay all scheduled executions, and prompted President Barack Obama to re-examine capital punishment in the U.S.
At the center of controversy is the sedative, midazolam, which is designed to induce unconsciousness before two other drugs have their lethal effect. Critics of midazolam say the drug does not sufficiently “knock out” prisoners.
"We know that midazolam does not satisfy the constitutional requirement of preventing cruel and unusual suffering and that it does not reliably anesthetize prisoners during executions," Warner’s attorney, Dale Baich, told Reuters.
Without proper anesthesia, the paralytic drug “would feel like a horse is sitting on a person’s chest, suffocation and a feeling of panic,” Baich told Politico, while the drug that causes cardiac arrest “would feel like liquid fire coursing through a person’s veins.”
If midazolam was found to not be effective at sufficiently sedating a prisoner, the executions could be deemed unlawful, according to a 2008 Supreme Court case that ruled providing the two lethal drugs to a conscious person equated to unconstitutional suffering.
— ACLU National (@ACLU) January 14, 2015
Officials in Oklahoma and Florida say midazolam is effective and their chemical combinations are appropriate.
Shonda Waller, the mother of the 11-month-old girl Warner raped and murder, said his execution would be a "dishonor" to her daughter and against her religious beliefs, NBC News reported.
"I don't see any justice in just sentencing someone to die," Waller said. "To me, the justice is in someone living with what they have done to you, your family, and having to live with that for the rest of their life knowing they will never walk out those bars."
In Florida, Johnny Kormondy would be the 21st inmate executed under Governor Rick Scott, tying the mark set by former Governor Jeb Bush. Bush served eight years, however, while Scott is just starting his second four-year term in office.