Oklahoma Botched Execution of Clayton Lockett Used Same Drug as Florida Executions: Midazolam

Tuesday was a horror:  Clayton Lockett was seen to writhe, clench his teeth and fight against his gurney restraints as the State of Oklahoma's lethal injection execution took place.  

Oklahoma officials halted the execution after seeing that the untested use of midazolam in the lethal drug cocktail might not be working properly (duh) but this apparently came too late.  Not only was there obviously suffering on the part of Lockett, he died of a heart attack shortly thereafter.

Now, there is growing outrage about what happened during the Lockett execution.  

Thing is, all eyes are on Oklahoma.  But while Oklahoma used midazolam as the first part of cocktail, 100 milligrams, it's not like this drug has never been used in lethal injections before.

 Florida uses it  already -- 500 milligrams of midazolam goes into Florida's lethal injection cocktail.  

See our earlier posts on the lethal cocktail issue, including:  

1.  Thomas Knight Execution Using Midazolam Hydrochloride: Will It Take Place? Florida Supreme Court Hearing Set for December 18.

2.  Florida Executions Continue With Untested Drug Combo as Darius Kimbrough Executed with Midazolam Hydrochloride

3.  Pentobarbital Shortage: Texas Supplier Asks for His Product Back; Florida Will Use New Drug Midazolam Hydrochloride in October 15 Execution


US Supreme Court Finds Silence Gets No Jury Instruction in Sentencing Phase in Death Penalty Case

Terence Lenamon is known for his work in defending people who are facing capital punishment as prosecutors seek the death penalty in trying these people for serious crimes.  Much of Terry's work is done in the "sentencing phase" of a death penalty case, where the defendant has been found guilty in the "trial phase" and now, the focus is upon whether or not he (or she) should be punished with death.

Of note, this week the United States Supreme Court handed down its opinion in an important case involving the sentencing phase of a criminal trial.

Coming out of Kentucky, the case involved defendant Robert Woodall, who did not testify in the sentencing phase of his trial.  His lawyer asked the trial judge to instruct the jury that the jurors should not assume anything bad from this - in lawyer-speak, he asked for a jury instruction that there should be no negative inference from the failure of the defendant to testify in the sentencing phase.

The Kentucky criminal trial judge declined the defense lawyer's request and the Woodall jury was not instructed on this issue.  Woodall appealled this decision, and the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals held that the failure to give this jury instruction was unconstitutional -- it violated the citizen's right to remain silent.

On Tuesday, SCOTUS reversed the 6th Circuit.  It's not unconstitutional, according to the High Court.

Explained Justice Scalia in the majority opinion (read White v. Woodall here): the state court didn't act "unreasonably" so the federal court has to defer to Kentucky here.  

Three justices dissented, arguing that the Right to Remain Silent (5th Amendment) covers both the trial and sentencing phases of a criminal trial ....

So, according to the Supreme Court of the United States, if the defendant in the sentencing phase remains silent, then the jury can assume that's a suggestion of his deserving to die?

Michel Escoto Trial: Terence Lenamon Gives Closing Arguments as Defense Counsel, No Longer on "Stand By"

In the Michel Escoto trial in Miami, Terence Lenamon has changed hats from being "standby counsel" for the defense as Escoto represented himself, to official defense counsel for defendant Michel Escoto.  

Terry Lenamon gave closing arguments for the defense in the case.  

For details, check out the Miami Herald coverage like this article by reporter David Ovalle, "Miami man planned new wife’s murder to collect $1 million in life insurance."

Also, stay tuned:  Terence Lenamon has been interviewed by national news media regarding this case and he will be seen in the Michel Escoto trial coverage by both Inside Edition and Dateline. 

Dates and times yet to be announced.

Update:  Today, the jury found Escoto guilty of murdering his newlywed wife, Wendy Trapaga.  


Lenamon Continues as Stand-By Defense Lawyer for Michel Escoto In Florida Murder Trial

 This week, Terence Lenamon remains in trial in the unique role of "stand by counsel" to defendant Michel Escoto, who represents himself in his murder trial this week.

The prosecution rested its case last week (read about that here).

Escoto now presents his defense case, with a DNA expert taking the stand for most of yesterday.

Stand-by counsel isn't the norm in a criminal case, but Mr. Escoto has chosen to exercise his right to represent himself in this trial and Terry Lenamon sits at the defense table without acting as trial attorney in this case. 

This case is getting more and more media coverage including national news coverage and you may recognize it as the "Newlywed Murder Case." 

See Terry:

You can see Terry Lenamon sitting as stand-by counsel in the Escoto trial in this video coverage of the case, on the day where Escoto was held in contempt of court, here. 

Supplier of Lethal Injection Drugs in Texas Execution Protected as US Supreme Court Denies Writ

It's not over, this argument regarding the drugs being used in lethal injection executions in this country -- but it is over for Texas Death Row inmate and convicted serial killer Tommy Lynn Sells who died last night in Huntsville, Texas, as his death penalty was carried out.

The United States Supreme Court denied Sells' petition for writ of certiorari yesterday and Sells was executed shortly thereafter.  (Read the succinct order of denial here.)

As for the arguments involved in Sells' last appellate argument - that the State of Texas should reveal the supplier of the drugs to be used in the execution (and which did get a stay for a period of time), here is the Opinion of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals vacating the stay and allowing the privacy of the drug manufacturer to remain secret:

Fifth Circuit Opinion April 2014 Removing Sells' Stay of Execution Re Secret Supplier of Lethal Execut...

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