- Associated Press - Thursday, February 11, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The general counsel for Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin resigned Thursday amid a grand jury investigation into how the wrong drug was delivered for the state’s last two scheduled executions.

Fallin spokesman Michael McNutt confirmed Steve Mullins stepped down after three years as the governor’s top attorney, but did not say whether his resignation was connected to the probe.

In his resignation letter, Mullins said it was the stress of the job and the need for the governor to eliminate personnel costs amid the state’s budget gap. “I have also been advised by my doctor that I need to better control the stress in my life,” Mullins wrote.

His resignation is effective Feb. 29. Telephone and email messages left Thursday with Mullins were not immediately returned. Mullins’ resignation was first reported by The Oklahoman newspaper.

Fallin said in a statement that she appreciated Mullins’ loyalty and professionalism.

“He has served the state and my office well,” Fallin said. “I wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

Mullins is the third person who testified before the grand jury looking into the drug mix-up and then later resigned. Former Department of Corrections director Robert Patton and Oklahoma State Penitentiary warden Anita Trammell also stepped down.

In September, Richard Glossip was just hours away from his scheduled execution when prison officials realized they received potassium acetate, not potassium chloride, which is the third of three drugs the state uses to execute people. After Glossip’s execution was put on hold, an autopsy report from Charles Warner’s January 2015 execution revealed he was administered potassium acetate instead of potassium chloride.

Patton, Trammell and Mullins all appeared in October before a multicounty grand jury that is investigating how the wrong lethal injection drugs were used during Warner’s execution. Trammell announced her retirement just days after that appearance, and Patton stepped down in December.

The grand jury, which meets in secret, is expected to release a report once it concludes its investigation.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has said he won’t request any execution dates until at least 150 days after the investigation is complete, the results are made public and his office receives notice that the prisons agency can comply with the state’s execution protocol.

Meanwhile, the new interim director of Oklahoma’s prison system, Joe Allbaugh, said Wednesday that prison officials are continuing to train and practice on the execution protocols so they will be prepared when lethal injections resume.

“The citizens of Oklahoma can be assured that we will continue refining our protocols, improving upon them and when the time comes, they can be confident that any execution going forward will be done as actually intended,” Allbaugh said.

Oklahoma’s execution protocols were rewritten after a botched execution in 2014 left inmate Clayton Lockett writhing on the gurney and mumbling in an execution that Patton tried unsuccessfully to halt before Lockett was pronounced dead 43 minutes after the procedure began.

An investigation later revealed that a faulty insertion of the intravenous line and lack of training of the execution team contributed to the problems.

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Follow Sean Murphy at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy

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