AR Chief Medical Examiner Reports No Botched Executions

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Arkansas State Medical Examiner Doctor Charles Kokes said confidently there have been no botched executions.

"There have been no signs of any injury other than that associated with the administration of drugs," said Dr. Kokes.

In the past five days, there have been three executions. After each one, the State Crime Lab performed autopsies.

"We try to do our examinations as expeditiously as possible," said Dr. Kokes.

Dr. Kokes said the cause of death, goes beyond lethal injection. Examiners test for substances in the blood stream, along with the drug cocktail that caused the inmate to die.

One of the main reasons for testing, Dr. Kokes said, is to determine if the inmate died humanely or if there was a struggle -- which is what some wondered after witnesses said they saw Marcel Williams struggle to breathe Monday night.

"There's no way to assess whether or not the drugs were as effective as they are supposed to be... ultimately they were successful," said Dr. Kokes.

Dr. Kokes compared the heavy breathing the witnesses reported to a drug overdose. He said it's similar to what someone would go through as their respiratory system shuts down.

While Dr. Kokes said he looked for the cause of death of those executed inmates, he said he looks to confirm his paperwork matches the Arkansas Department of Corrections, and that everything was performed correctly.

"I do know from conversations that they are interested and desire to go through the process of execution as humanely as possible," said Dr. Kokes.

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