OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - Oklahoma put to death a man on Thursday convicted of strangling his prison cellmate, using for the first time in a U.S. execution a drug often used to euthanize animals.
John David Duty, 58, was pronounced dead at 6:18 p.m. local time, Department of Corrections spokesman Jerry Massie said by telephone from Mcalester, Oklahoma.
Massie said a three-drug cocktail was administered, including pentobarbital, a drug used in euthanasia of animals as well as a sedative for humans. He said it was its first use in a U.S. execution and replaced sodium thiopental, a sedative that was in short supply.
“There were no apparent issues” with the new drug, Massie said. A federal court in Oklahoma ruled the drug could be used in the execution, a ruling upheld by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Duty was convicted of murdering his cellmate, Curtis Wise, with a bedsheet in 2001.
Prison officials said Duty’s last words were: To the family of Curtis Wise, I would like to make my apology. One day you will be able to forgive me, not for my sake but for your own. My family and friends are here too. You’ve all been a blessing. Thank you Lord Jesus. I am ready to go home.”
Duty was serving two concurrent life sentences for robbery, shooting with intent to kill, and rape, when he murdered Wise. Duty convinced Wise to pose as a hostage to entice guards to move Duty to a different cell. After binding Wise’s hand and foot, Duty strangled him.
Duty then wrote a letter to his victim’s mother bragging about the murder.
His execution was the third this year in Oklahoma and the 46th in the United States.
Editing by Greg McCune and Peter Cooney