First 14 Doses Failed to Kill Death Row Inmate

Arizona's Joseph Wood died after the 15th, nearly 2 hours later
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 2, 2014 7:41 AM CDT
This undated file photo provided by the Arizona Department of Corrections shows Joseph Rudolph Wood.   (AP Photo/Arizona Department of Corrections, File)

(Newser) – Now we know why the execution of Joseph Wood in Arizona took so long: It took 15 doses of drugs to get the job done, reports the LA Times. State prison officials laid out the details yesterday, explaining that Wood got a combination of hydromorphone and midazolam at 1:52pm on July 23. Authorities waited a few minutes for him to die, and when he didn't, they gave him another dose. After a few minutes, they gave him another, and another. In all, it took 15 doses before Wood was pronounced dead nearly two hours later. The state defended its procedure, notes the Arizona Republic, saying that prisons chief Charles Ryan was in constant contact with the IV team and followed the correct protocol. Ryan promised an independent review.

Wood, who murdered his girlfriend and her father in 1989, was supposed to get 50mg of each drug, but he ended up getting 750mg of each instead, reports the New York Times. "They're making this up as they go along," says an anesthesiologist, who explains that because the drugs are made to treat patients, figuring out the precise dose necessary to kill someone is mostly guesswork. Wood's attorneys say he gasped for air and snorted all throughout the prolonged execution, though other witnesses say he didn't seem to be suffering. (John McCain, for one, thinks what happened to Wood amounts to torture.)

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