The State presented John Harper, a 23-year employee of the Georgia Diagnostic Prison in Jackson, Georgia (T. 7/28 88-89).2 Mr. Harper has attended twenty-eight lethal injection executions in Georgia, including the execution of Roy Blankenship on June 23, 2011 (T. 7/28 89). During the Blankenship execution, Mr. Harper was in the mechanical room behind the actual execution chamber. Mr. Harper explained that there's a witness area separated from the execution chamber
2 Mr. Valle moved to strike the testimony of the State‘s witnesses Jacqueline Martin and John Harper, because their testimony was offered to rebut the testimony that would have been offered by Mr. Valle‘s witnesses, who the court had excluded upon argument by the State (8/2 at 28). 5
by a wall of windows. Behind that chamber, there's another window that leads into the mechanical room where he was situated. Between the mechanical room and the gurney is a one-way (or a two-way) mirror - you can see out but you can't see in (T. 7/28 90). Mr. Harper was approximately 86 inches from the head of the gurney (T. 7/28 90). He could see Mr. Blankenship‘s left side (T. 7/28 91). About 5 seconds after the injection of the first syringe, Mr. Harper saw Mr. Blankenship look at his left arm, then his right. He then made a noise that Mr. Harper described as a ―grunt.‖ Mr. Harper did not see Mr. Blankenship move after the consciousness check (T. 7/28 91-92).
Mr. Harper explained that he was not as close to the inmate as the witnesses in the first row. He could hear, but could not tell what was being said (T. 7/28 96). Mr. Blankenship's execution was the first Mr. Harper had witnessed involving pentobarbital (T. 7/28 98). Mr. Harper has never been trained in, and has no knowledge about pentobarbital (T. 7/28 98). He could not, or would not, estimate the size of the mechanical room in which he was situated (T. 7/28 99). Mr. Harper‘s duties during the execution involved communicating on the telephone with two command posts, letting them know what was happening (T. 7/28 100). While his view of the inmate is ―mostly‖ unobstructed (T. 7/28 100), people would walk in front of him. There were approximately eight people in the mechanical 6
room, including the person actually pushing the syringes (T. 7/28 100). Mr. Harper had indicated in an affidavit that there were two stopwatches in the mechanical room, however, he testified that he did not observe those stopwatches and relied on the clock in the execution chamber for his time line (T. 7/28 101-102). While present at the execution of Mr. Blankenship, Mr. Harper was on the telephone, there were people in front of him at times, and he saw the person pushing the syringes and he was taking notes (T. 7/28 102-103). Mr. Blankenship moved to look at his left arm within 5 seconds of the first syringe being pushed (T. 7/28 103). While he could not estimate the length of the IV tubing, Mr. Harper did not believe that this was enough time for the drug to actually reach the inmate (T. 7/28 105). Approximately five seconds after looking at his arm, Mr. Blankenship laid his head back (T. 7/28 106). Mr. Harper does not know what chemical is in each of the syringes (T. 7/28 107).