The state of Oklahoma on Thursday performed its first execution since a botched lethal injection in April left an inmate writhing on the gurney before dying of a heart attack, prompting the state to suspend the practice. The suspension temporarily spared Charles Frederick Warner, who was scheduled to be executed that same night in April for the 1997 rape and murder of his then-girlfriend’s 11-month old daughter. Warner was administered a lethal injection in an execution that lasted 18 minutes.
The debate over the composition of the drug cocktails administered to death row inmates has been the subject of growing scrutiny and Warner’s case was no different. Warner’s lawyers challenged the state’s use of the sedative midazolam as part of the three-drug injection administered by the state for only the second time. The Supreme Court declined a last-minute stay of the execution on Thursday. “A sharp dissent written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and endorsed by three other members of the court, held that the drug combination being used in Oklahoma risked causing severe, unconstitutional suffering,” the New York Times reports. “But the other five justices voted without comment to deny the appeal for a stay.”