Arizona Was Compelled To Give Prisoner 15 Times The Standard Dosage of Drugs In Botched Wood Execution

sub-execute-master180New details are emerging on the botched execution of Joseph Rudolph Wood in Arizona that we discussed earlier. If you recall the horrific scene, Wood took roughly two hours to die. Now it appears that the dosage for the new drugs were way off — requiring the prison to increase the dosage to 25 times what was thought to be necessary.

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 prison gave convicted double murderer Joseph Rudolph Wood 50 milligrams each of the sedative midazolam and painkiller hydromorphone, then injected him with that dose 14 more times during the execution, for a total of 750 milligrams. The execution protocol calls for the initial dose, but the corrections director can authorize a second dose if the prisoner is still alive after two or three minutes

The prison still insists that “[Charles Ryan, director of the corrections department], continually conferred with the IV team, and directed additional midazolam and hydromorphone to be administered ensuring the inmate remained deeply sedated throughout the process, and did not endure pain.”

In three other executions using the sedative midazolam, prisoners were seen gasping for air.

What was particularly striking for me is the reference in these reports that a licensed medical doctor was part of the execution team. The AMA has been clear that doctors must not participate in executions:

Opinion 2.06 – Capital Punishment

An individual’s opinion on capital punishment is the personal moral decision of the individual. A physician, as a member of a profession dedicated to preserving life when there is hope of doing so, should not be a participant in a legally authorized execution. Physician participation in execution is defined generally as actions which would fall into one or more of the following categories: (1) an action which would directly cause the death of the condemned; (2) an action which would assist, supervise, or contribute to the ability of another individual to directly cause the death of the condemned; (3) an action which could automatically cause an execution to be carried out on a condemned prisoner.

Physician participation in an execution includes, but is not limited to, the following actions: prescribing or administering tranquilizers and other psychotropic agents and medications that are part of the execution procedure; monitoring vital signs on site or remotely (including monitoring electrocardiograms); attending or observing an execution as a physician; and rendering of technical advice regarding execution. In the case where the method of execution is lethal injection, the following actions by the physician would also constitute physician participation in execution: selecting injection sites; starting intravenous lines as a port for a lethal injection device; prescribing, preparing, administering, or supervising injection drugs or their doses or types; inspecting, testing, or maintaining lethal injection devices; and consulting with or supervising lethal injection personnel.

However, it is possible that the doctor was merely part of the team to confirm death, which is allowed under the AMA guidelines. However, that exception also have a condition. The doctor may “certify[] death, provided that the condemned has been declared dead by another person.” The presence of the doctor (who the state will not name) will increase objections from many about such involvement. If the doctor complied with the AMA rules, he or she stood by and offered no advice or assistance as a man slowly died over the course of two hours in front of the doctor.

Source: New York Times

60 thoughts on “Arizona Was Compelled To Give Prisoner 15 Times The Standard Dosage of Drugs In Botched Wood Execution”

  1. Paul says we cannot remember pain, he did NOT say we COULD remember it. He also said we couldn’t recreate the pain. Well, as I said DUH. We can most definitely remember pain, we can most definitely remember the sensation, the burning, the tingling, the ache, the stabbing, the pulling, the pinching, the twisting feelings of various pain sensations we have experienced. In order to recreate the actual original pain we would have to inflict the same injury upon yourselves. I’d rather remember the pain, than recreate thank you very much. Evolution ENSURED we remember pain and how bad it felt.

    1. Annie – read your link and it says no more or less than what I already said.

  2. John – thanks for the info. Who killed that poor couple? They must have suffered terribly. They were not Woods’ victims, but crimes like these are why it becomes a question of justice.

  3. Paul – so true that we can remember pain, and that it was awful, but we do not recreate it in our minds.

    Before I had my arm fixed, it would dislocate frequently. I knew that it always felt like my arm had been ripped off, and that the pain was intense. But knowing, and remembering, is NOTHING like actually having it happen again. It was ALWAYS worse than I remembered. We cannot accurately remember what it felt like, just an approximation. But we can sure recognize it when it recurs!

  4. Cruel was to be “drawn and quartered.”

    This is a deliberate “inference” of a false negative connotation put to something that occurs every second on this planet and something that medical personnel effect easily and effectively. People go to sleep.

    People go to sleep every night.

    Hospital patients are put to sleep every hour and not one of them remembers a thing.

    Criminals impose cruel and unusual punishment on their victims (see below).

    Religious doctrine does NOT prevail under the Constitution. America is not a theocracy.

    Death is as common as birth. People die in cars and planes. They die in snow skiing and sky diving accidents.

    Rational application of the death penalty is moral and legal.


    The Torture Murders of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom

    As information slowly emerged out of the investigation, it was clear this was on ordinary crime. “It apparently started with a carjacking,” said U.S. Marshal Rich Knighten, “They did some really nasty things to this lady. There is some evidence she was held and sexually abused for a couple of days.” In fact, as police gathered more facts it became clear that both Newsom and Christian were brutalized beyond imagination.

    In the wee hours of that Sunday morning, Newsom and Christian were carjacked at gunpoint in her parents’ 2005 Toyota 4-Runner and brought back to the house on Chipman. Christopher Newsom was raped over and over again (semen was found in his anus) and sodomized with an unknown object. He was blindfolded, gagged, and bound at the hands and feet. After several nightmarish hours, Newsom was either walked barefoot or dragged out to the railroad tracks where he was shot in the back of the head execution-style. The assailants shot him two more times (in the back and in the neck). Then Newsom’s corpse was doused with gasoline and lit on fire.

    For Channon Christian, the torture was even worse. She suffered days of sexual abuse in the Chipman home. She was beaten mercilessly and raped numerous times, suffering excruciating injuries to her mouth, vagina, and anus. Forensic pathologists found that not only was Christian raped by her captors, but she had been penetrated with an object as well (possibly a chair leg, according to the Knox County Medical Examiner). In addition, examiners found that a chemical (likely bleach) had been poured down her throat and in her wounded genital areas — while she was still alive. The coroner reported that Christian was then tied up with torn strips of bedding, her head covered in a white garbage bag — and then the whole body stuffed in five larger trash bags before being thrown into a garbage can. Perhaps the most horrifying finding was that Christian was still alive at the time; her death came after the slow process of suffocation in that trash container.

  5. It sounds like his death certainly took a long time, even if he was not able to experience any pain. This will certainly re-open the debate on capital punishment. What is justice for the most heinous crimes? Death or life in prison? I actually have not completely made up my mind on capital punishment.

    The emphasis has turned from his victims, for whom he showed no mercy, to the possible suffering of a killer. His victims suffered, consciously.

    I agree with protecting the anonymity of the compounding pharmacy that supplies the drug.

  6. Schulte/ Annie
    Annie – this is exactly what I said.

    One of the fascinating things about the human mind is that we really cannot remember pain. We can remember we had it, but we cannot recreate it in our minds.

    Schulte you are wrong about not remembering pain but you are right, it cannot be recreated… but you remember the horror it put you through and that you do not forget. Try having a kid that took 24 hours to show himself and you with no pain killer ……………………… You do remember the pain but not the severity of it. What you remember is the horror of what you went through. The good thing about childbirth Annie is that the end result outweighs the pain.

  7. As a longtime RN who has administered both these drugs, I can guarantee you he felt no pain, but floated off to the next phase of existence with a great buzz…if they gave the hydromorphone first…if midazolam was given first, which is likely, the condemned wasn’t conscious enough to enjoy the high.
    Before we started using propofol for reduction procedures for out of place hips and shoulders we used midazoloam which has amnestic properties, along with an opiate. If properly dosed, 1-3mg midazolam and 1-2mg hydromorphone, without exception the patients would awake from the procedure, asking, “when are we going to do this,” to which I would say, “it’s done, your hip/shoulder is back in place.”
    Sounds like they “started” with dosages 50x the lower range of what I have administered, which rendered the modern outer brain incapable of interpreting the pain signals from the reptilian brain (which controls heartbeat and breathing). You don’t have to think about contracting your heart or breathing, that’s our reptilian brain and lest you put a bullet through it it will continue sending signals to your heart and lungs to keep doing what they do until the decreasing respirations caused by the opiate hydromorphone causes acid imbalances in your blood which will eventually cause the heart to stop. So the body was gasping for hours but his modern brain was not involved, it was floating off in the warm embrace of Morpheus.
    All that being said, I am against the death penalty for several reasons, many of which have been mentioned by other commenters. Among them: 1) it cost less to house a prisoner for the duration of their life than to prosecute a death penalty case through to its conclusion. 2) innocent people have been put to death (and therefore, no, we shouldn’t expedite the death penalty trial process). 3) the taking of a life by the State should be uncomfortable for its citizenry. It should be violent, hanging or firing squad, so we can emotionally feel the magnitude of what is occurring. It should not be easy.

  8. I am tired of the weeny photo of dead guy. I recommend here that we violate the Sixth Commandment of Thou Shalt Not Kill with something more humane like a firing squad of six with the Governor being the lead off shooter. Rick Perry would like this. Some Governors might resort to the Pardon Me Ray thing so they would not have to be the absolute direct killer. That way when they go to meet Saint Peter at the Holy Gates they will not have to interpose the defense that Y’all Can. You know what I mean. If The People of The Great State of Texas or Arizona kill a human it is ok because of the Y’all Can Exception To the Sixth Commandment. I am tired of the photo of weeny here that you keep showing. Is there not a photo of him without all the orange jump suit and please don’t kill me thing going on? He is dead. All those people from his State killed him. They will all have to explain it at the Holy Gates before Saint Peter or his stand in on Wednesday when Saint Peter plays golf. They are up itShay Creek without a paddle. So to speak.

    1. BarkinDog – not sure if Utah still uses the firing squad, but when they did they had more volunteers than they could use.
      You do raise an interesting point of personal responsibility for the execution. Under the US system there are duplicate systems so the person is not sure if it is them who is actually doing the execution. Under the Chinese system (bullet to the back of the head) personal responsibility is always in the hand and mind of the shooter.

  9. Max-1 – it is not ‘unusual’ for an execution to fail. There are several cases on record.

  10. Cruel is not cool… 8th Amendment.

    If you can’t get a murder right the first 14 times… try for 15?


    1. Max-1 – it is ‘cruel and unusual’ not ‘cruel or unusual’ Has to be both.

  11. Paul, I would see lying plaintiff’s “recreate” pain for juries all the time. Then they would turn red, white and blue when the surveillance tape was played.

  12. How the heck do you think humanity survived with no memory of pain? The memory of what caused pain and how MUCH it hurt made it possible for humans to not make the same mistake twice. The memory of burning ones hand, the memory of the sensation of pain made sure humans were more careful with fire the next time they needed to roast a wild beast.

  13. Paul, you asserted that one cannot recall the pain, that it’s forgotten, now you have modified your claim to say the pain can’t be duplicated in the brain. No duh. Seriously Paul? Of course it can’t be duplicated, the stimulus isn’t there that caused the past sensation of pain. However, the MEMORY of the pain is always there in the brain, the intensity, the location, the way the pain started, ended, how long it lasted. The memory of pain in imprinted in the memory. I hope you didn’t teach this nonsense to high schoolers.

    1. Annie – this is exactly what I said.

      One of the fascinating things about the human mind is that we really cannot remember pain. We can remember we had it, but we cannot recreate it in our minds.

      You, as usual, are trying to say I said things that I did not. Quit it!!!

  14. Paul, baloney. I remember exactly how much it hurt to give birth, my amygdala is functioning as Dredd indicates. Paul, you are again passing along erroneous info, just like with the SSDI qualifications earlier today. Sheesh do some research!

    1. Annie – you remember you had pain, you cannot duplicate the pain. Get a grip girl.

  15. samantha – blaming the British is blaming the supplier and it might be an apt analogy with my wife were that true. I grew up in a town with legalized prostitution and no one blamed anyone.

  16. Schulte, blaming the British for not selling drugs is like blaming your wife every time you see a prostitute.

    Admitting the system is flawed is like your gun back-firing and blowing off your hand, after you already knew the gun was defective.

  17. Paul C. Schulte

    George – I have often wished for a do-over button. 🙂
    C’mon One of Three, you can tell us about your do-over button and what you do with it when you think of One of Seven.

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