“He Is Still Alive”: Arizona Takes Two Hours To Execute Prisoner

23ARIZONA-now-master180We previously discussed the botched execution in Oklahoma and the questions that it raised about our methods of execution. Now we have another horrific execution story to report. In Arizona, it took almost two hours for the prison to execute Joseph R. Wood III. The execution took so long that his counsel had time to file emergency papers with the federal court saying “He is still alive.”

Wood’s execution was given the green light after the United States Supreme Court overturned a stay of execution that had been granted by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The Ninth Circuit held that the state had to disclose the drugs and the executioners to be used in his lethal injection — a ruling that now seems prophetic though the matter is under investigation. Arizona has disclosed it uses a combination of midazolam and hydromorphone as well as the planned dosages. However, it would not reveal information about the manufacturers and suppliers of the drugs or details about the qualifications of the state prison employees assigned to the execution. The sources of these drugs, as we discussed earlier, have been a major controversy given the international movement to cut off access of U.S. prisons to drugs used in executions.

Wood was seen gasping for breath for more than an hour and a half before he died Wednesday. The execution began at 1:52 p.m., and the inmate was pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m. Witnesses counted over 600 gasps before he finally died. His lawyers rushed to try to get a court to intervene with no success. They filed with both state and federal courts as well as with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy through his clerk’s office.

In their filing to the district court, “He is still alive . . . This execution has violated Mr. Wood’s Eighth Amendment right to be executed in the absence of cruel and unusual punishment. We respectfully request that this court stop the execution and require that the Department of Corrections use the lifesaving provisions required in its protocol.”

Wood was convicted of shooting to death his ex-girlfriend, 29, and her father, 55, in 1989.

Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona made the following statement:

“While justice was carried out today, I directed the Department of Corrections to conduct a full review of the process,” she said. “One thing is certain, however: Inmate 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.”

74 thoughts on ““He Is Still Alive”: Arizona Takes Two Hours To Execute Prisoner”

  1. Is there not another photo of this dork available to post? I guess we can call him dead dork now. The photo seems to make him appear to be asking for mercy.

  2. Samantha said: Civilized man is about rising above animal instinct, living by a code that is moral. There is a difference between cold-blooded-murder and heat-of-passion murder. Execution is cold blooded murder, no matter how you slice it, and the executioner is not in any heat of passion. If Wood is guilty, how is the executioner any different from him?

    I would add this: The People of the Great State of Arizona prosecuted the schmuck and he was executed in their name. So all of you residents of Arizona killed. Thou Shalt Not Kill. BarkinDog says that there is no exception for : Y’all Can. BarkinDog says that it would be appropriate to have a firing squad and make the Governor fire the lead off shot. I agree. But there are alternatives. Back on my planet Remulak we dont kill the bad guys. We erase their memory and make them into humans and send them down to planet Earth. Sorry but its just a cultural thing. We dont kill up there and it has nothing to do with God, Christ, the Ten Commandments or the Four Seasons.

  3. “Fiver, …the number of wrongly convicted will lessen….”

    This may be technically correct but it focuses on exactly the wrong implication.

    Years ago there were some who argued that there was no proof that the jury system produced wrong results.

    Now we have proof that there is an error rate associated with the jury system.

    We know that the error rate can be reduced through technical means such as DNA testing.

    However we have no reason to suppose that the error rate of the jury system, operating alone, is different for cases that have DNA material and those that do not have DNA material available for testing.

    Therefore the only possible conclusion is that the jury system will continue to produce errors that we have no technical method to correct.

    The only reasonable belief is that innocent people will continue to be convicted and that rate of wrong convictions will remain about the same as it ever was for cases where there is no DNA material available to test.

    The conviction of innocent people is a fact or our judicial system.

    1. bfm, The fact is that any system will have an error rate, no matter what. Thus the question the death penalty advocates have to answer is how many innocent people they are willing to sacrifice to kill some really bad and death penalty deserving crooks. In Illinois I recall the error rate ran to 17% which is why the Governor commuted the death sentences of all death row inmates. I rather like the Brits law which makes the death penalty effective only in war time or civil insurrection. The government is in an extreme condition and the use of all measures is justified to preserve itself, and in any case is already killing lots of innocents in such situations.

  4. They could have let him watch a couple of hours of John McCain on TV. That will kill anyone.

  5. I don’t understand why they do not put the condemned under general anesthesia and begin the execution process. Or, alternatively, use a 100% nitrogen feeding mask. From what I have read the person does not gasp as is the case of suffocation with increasing carbon dioxide levels. They go into unconsciousness and later pass away.

  6. john, your medical procedure went well because you had medical professionals performing their jobs. this is the problem with executions. you see, most medical professionals take an oath to “first do no harm”, so as a rule, medical professionals are not involved in executions. also most drug companies don’t want their products associated with killing people, legal or not.

    so what you wind up with is someone who may or may not be able to hit a vein with a drug that may or may not do what the person who mixed it says it will.

    you might as well beat them to death with a claw hammer but then what would be the point of prisons because that’s generally where society puts people that beat others to death with hammers.

  7. This is ridiculous. I just had an “endoscopy” topside. I went out like a light and didn’t and don’t remember a thing.

    Everybody KNOWS, ergo must admit, that a human can be put out like flipping a switch. It happens every hour in every city.

    An attorney to present a proper defense of a suspect may be a necessary evil but this “newspeak” of 1984 in our Brave New World has got to be constrained.

    What if these errors of humanity were intractable fissionable material? Would we find a way to make absolutely certain they would never come in contact with society again so that even the contemplation of the potential for them to brutally and heinously torture without coherence or rationale and murder another human being would be precluded in perpetuity ad infinitum.

    If there is separation of church and state, the penalty shall be earthly and secular.

    Then there is the law and the people with the power who make the law.

    Let’s ask them what the law is and should be.

    Oh. What’s the point? Like Propositions in California and a plethora of other issues important to the people, A JUDGE WILL JUST OVERTURN IT.

    How about that judicial branch. It pretty much runs the show…with impunity.

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