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Joseph Wood Executed in Arizona, Prompting Review of Procedure
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Joseph Wood

An outside review of the “horrifically botched execution” of a convicted double-murderer has been requested by the man’s lawyers, according to Reuters.

The lethal injection occurred in Arizona on Wednesday night and it took the man two hours to die. Witnesses claim he gasped for air for more than 100 minutes.

  
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Joseph Wood was put to death at a facility southeast of Phoenix. It is the third time that a lethal injection went wrong this year in the country.

“He gasped and struggled to breathe for about an hour and 40 minutes,” said Dale Baich, one of Wood’s lawyers.

A journalist from the Arizona Republic claims that Wood gasped for air 660 times prior to dying.

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While he was struggling to breathe, Wood’s attorneys filed emergency court petitions asking to cut the procedure short and resuscitate the client. They argued that Wood was subjected to unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment.

The appeal was denied by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Wood was pronounced dead just before 4 p.m. local time, which was one hour and 57 minutes after the execution started.



Charles Ryan, the State Correction Director, said that the inmate “did not grimace or make any further movement” when issuing a statement about the ordeal. He called the breathing of Wood as “sonorous respiration, or snoring” and said that members of the execution team said he was assured “unequivocally that the inmate was comatose and never in pain or distress.”

Governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer, ordered a review by prison officials for the length of the procedure.

Baich said, “An independent investigation, led by someone outside of the Department of Corrections and outside of the executive branch of state government, must fully explore the practices which led to tonight’s horrifically botched execution.”

Brewer did release a statement that said Wood “died in a lawful manner, and by eyewitness and medical accounts he did not suffer. This is in stark comparison to the gruesome, vicious suffering that he inflicted on his two victims, and the lifetime of suffering he has caused their family.”

Wood was found guilty of fatally shooting his ex-girlfriend, Debbie Dietz, and her father, Gene Dietz, in 1991. The crime occurred in 1989 at a family auto shop in Tucson.



 

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