Inmate Takes 2 Hours to Die in Arizona Execution

Lawyers for Joseph Wood tried to stop procedure after an hour

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 23, 2014 6:18 PM CDT | Updated Jul 23, 2014 7:09 PM CDT

(Newser) – Another botched execution? Arizona executed a murderer today, but it took Joseph Rudolph Wood nearly two hours to die, reports the Arizona Republic. It took so long that Wood's lawyers filed an emergency appeal to stop the procedure after an hour because they say their 55-year-old client was still gasping for air at that point, reports the Guardian. According to the court filing cited by the LA Times, the lethal injection began at 1:52pm local time. Five minutes later, the state said Wood was sedated, "but at 2:02 he began to breathe," wrote the attorneys. "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. At 3:02 p.m. At that time, staff rechecked for sedation. He is still alive."

The execution continued, and Wood was pronounced dead at 3:49pm, one hour and 57 minutes after the procedure began. The details of what happened aren't out yet, but the case is drawing immediate parallels to the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma. Wood's lawyers had tried to stop the execution from taking place, arguing that he had the right to know where the lethal drugs were coming from, but the US Supreme Court allowed it to proceed. Wood murdered his girlfriend and her father in 1989, and the AP quotes a relative of the victims unmoved by the idea that Wood suffered any discomfort. "This man conducted a horrific murder and you guys are going, 'Let's worry about the drugs,'" said Richard Brown. "Why didn't they give him a bullet, why didn't we give him Drano?"

This undated file photo provided by the Arizona Department of Corrections shows inmate Joseph Rudolph Wood.
This undated file photo provided by the Arizona Department of Corrections shows inmate Joseph Rudolph Wood.   (AP Photo/Arizona Department of Corrections, File)
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