Intravenous lines were placed correctly during the execution of an Arizona inmate whose death with lethal drugs took more than 90 minutes, a medical examiner said today. Incorrect placement of lines can inject drugs into soft tissue instead of the blood stream, but the drugs used to kill Joseph Wood went into the veins of his arms, said Gregory Hess of the Pima County Medical Examiner's Office. Hess also told the AP that he found no unexplained injuries or anything else out of the ordinary when he examined the body of Wood, who gasped and snorted Wednesday more than 600 times before he was pronounced dead.
Hess said he will certify the outcome of Wood's execution as death by intoxication from the two execution drugs—the sedative midazolam and the painkiller hydromorphone—if there is nothing unusual about whatever drugs are detected in Wood's system. Wood was the first Arizona prisoner to be killed with the drug combination, and anesthesiology experts have said they weren't surprised the drugs took so long to kill him. Toxicology results are expected in 4 to 6 weeks from an outside lab. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has ordered the Corrections Department to conduct a review of the execution.