U.S. state Oklahoma says it will use nitrogen gas for executions

The gurney is seen in the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary and the viewing room behind the glass

The gurney is seen in the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary and the viewing room behind the glass

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said in a statement that the state would use the gas as its primary means of execution once a procedure for its use had been finalized.

Oklahoma is set to become the first state in the country to use nitrogen gas to carry out the death penalty, The Oklahoman reports.

Oklahoma has not carried out an execution since 2015 after a series of mishaps, including a botched lethal injection where an inmate was seen by witnesses writhing in pain on a death chamber gurney.

Hunter said this method is the best way for the state to move forward with executions.

FOX23 reached out to area district attorneys about possible cases this could impact.

Once the protocol is developed, the state must resolve a federal stay on executions before putting it into practice, which could take another five months or more.

Seventeen death row inmates in Oklahoma are eligible for execution dates after losing appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Trying to find alternative compounds or someone with prescribing authority willing to provide us with the drugs is becoming exceedingly hard, and we will not attempt to obtain the drugs illegally", Oklahoma Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh said.

Since 2015, state law has allowed for execution by nitrogen hypoxia if lethal injection is unavailable.

Globally, the United States ranked seventh or eighth in executions in 2016, behind China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Pakistan, Egypt and possibly Vietnam, where the total number of executions remains unclear, the center said. "I was calling all around the world, to the back streets of the Indian sub-continent", Oklahoma Corrections Department Director Joe Allbaugh claimed to The Associated Press.

Execution officials said the chemical element likely would be administered using a specially designed gas mask. Oklahoma would be the first state to employ the method.

"This method has never been used before and is experimental", Baich said. "How can we trust Oklahoma to get this right when the state's recent history reveals a culture of carelessness and mistakes in executions?"

"It's hard to say it's a good thing, killing people a different way", he said. "I think it's a good thing in that it will delay the process further".

Warner's execution, which was scheduled to occur the same night as Lockett's, was ultimately postponed until the following January.