Federal judge considering challenge from Oklahoma death row inmates over lethal injection

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OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma prison system chief who halted an execution in the spring after problems with the lethal injection drugs is expected to testify in a federal challenge to the state's death penalty.

Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton will return to the witness stand Friday as a federal judge wraps up testimony in a case in which 21 death row inmates are suing to stop their executions. The inmates contend a new three-drug formula used for the first time in April presents a serious risk of pain and suffering in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

The same three drugs were used during the execution of Clayton Lockett, who writhed on the gurney, mumbled and tried to lift up before a problem was discovered with an intravenous line.

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