ARIZONA (USA): JOSEPH WOOD DIES ALMOST TWO HOURS AFTER EXECUTION BEGINS
July 23, 2014: Joseph Wood gasped and snorted in an execution that lasted nearly 2 hours today. Lawyers for Joseph Wood had filed an emergency motion to abort the execution because their client was still alive more than an hour after receiving a lethal injection that was intended to kill him quickly and peacefully.
Their motion, filed in federal district court, failed to save Wood. "The Arizona Department of Corrections began the execution of Joseph Rudolph Wood III at 1:52 p.m. (4:52 p.m. ET). At 1:57 p.m ADC reported that Mr. Wood was sedated, but at 2:02 he began to breathe. At 2:03 his mouth moved. Mr. Wood has continued to breathe since that time. He has been gasping and snorting for more than an hour," the motion read.
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne announced that Wood was pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m. Court papers said the execution started 117 minutes earlier. "He has been gasping and snorting for more than an hour," Wood's lawyers wrote in their hurried attempt to call off the execution and force Arizona to provide Wood with life-saving care. "He is still alive."
Wood, 55, White, was convicted of killing his girlfriend Debra Dietz and her father in 1989. Defense lawyers and prosecutors had battled in court in the run-up to Wood's execution.
His attorneys sought to postpone his execution unless Arizona disclosed information about the untested cocktail of deadly drugs they planned to administer to him. They also argued that Wood's original defense was inadequate.
The Arizona Supreme Court, however, rejected both arguments earlier today and allowed the execution to go forward. Michael Kiefer, media witness from The Republic / azcentral.com, wrote: âAt 2:05, Wood's mouth opened. Three minutes later it opened again, and his chest moved as if he had burped. Then two minutes again, and again, the mouth open wider and wider. Then it didn't stop. He gulped like a fish on land. The movement was like a piston: The mouth opened, the chest rose, the stomach convulsed. And when the doctor came in to check on his consciousness and turned on the microphone to announce that Wood was still sedated, we could hear the sound he was making: a snoring, sucking, similar to when a swimming-pool filter starts taking in air, a louder noise than I can imitate, though I have tried. It was death by apnea. And it went on for an hour and a half. I made a pencil stroke on a pad of paper, each time his mouth opened, and ticked off more than 640, which was not all of them, because the doctor came in at least four times and blocked my view. One reporter who witnessed the execution, Troy Hayden of Fox 10 News, said it was "very disturbing to watch ... like a fish on shore gulping for air. At a certain point, you wondered whether he was ever going to die."
After Wood's death was announced, 1 of his lawyers in a statement given to HuffPost criticized the secrecy Arizona officials maintained around the experimental use of the drugs midazolam and hydromorphone. "We will renew our efforts to get information about the manufacturer of drugs as well as how Arizona came up with the experimental formula of drugs it used today. Arizona appears to have joined several other states who have been responsible for an entirely preventable horror - a bungled execution," Dale Baich said. "The public should hold its officials responsible and demand to make this process more transparent." In April, Oklahoma halted the execution of inmate Clayton Lockett who writhed in the death chamber during an execution prolonged by poorly administered drugs.
Wood becomes the 1st inmate to be put to death this year in Arizona, the 37th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1992, the 26th inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 1385th overall since the nation resumed executions on January 17, 1977. (Sources: Huffington Post & Rick Halperin, 23/07/2014)