Arizona Botches Execution, Inmate Gasps


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Arizona death row inmate Joseph Wood died nearly two hours after his execution commenced Wednesday, and his attorney said that he gasped for breath for much of that time.

Wood was convicted of murder in 1989, after killing his estranged girlfriend and her father. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer said she was concerned with the amount of time it took for Wood to die, and ordered the Department of Corrections to review their process.

In a statement, Brewer commented, "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."

Wood's execution began at 4:52 p.m. ET, and he was pronounced dead at 6:49 p.m. ET.

Wood's lawyer, Dale Baich, commented, "It took Joseph Wood two hours to die, and he gasped and struggled to breathe for about an hour and 40 minutes. 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."

Jeanne Brown, a relative of Wood's victims, doesn't share the same sympathy or concern as Baich. "I don't believe he was gasping for air; I don't believe he was suffering. It sounded to me like was snoring," Brown said, adding, "You don't know what excruciating is. What's excruciating is seeing your dad laying there in a pool of blood, seeing you sister laying there in a pool of blood. This man deserved it. And I shouldn't really call him a man."

The incident in Arizona comes after a similar mishap which occurred in Oklahoma in April. Condemned inmate Clayton Lockett died of a heart attack roughly 20 minutes after waking up during his execution mid-injection, due to faulty equipment. The scheduled execution of a second inmate for the evening was subsequently postponed.

Baich commented, "Arizona appears to have joined several other states who have been responsible for an entirely preventable horror - a bungled execution."

Image via Wikimedia Commons