The execution of a convicted murderer in Arizona on Wednesday took nearly two hours, confirming concerns that had been raised by his attorneys about a controversial drug used by the state.
Joseph Rudolph Wood III remained alive at Arizona’s state prison in Florence long enough for his public defenders to file an emergency motion for a stay of execution with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, after the process began at 1:53 p.m. CST. The motion noted that Wood “has been gasping and snorting for more than an hour” after being injected with a lethal cocktail of drugs.
According to Arizona Republic reporter Michael Kiefer, who witnessed the execution, lines were run into each of Wood’s arms. After Wood said his last words, he was unconscious by 1:57 p.m. At about 2:05, he started gasping, Kiefer said.
“I counted about 660 times he gasped,” Kiefer said. “That petered out by 3:33. The death was called at 3:49,” Kiefer said.
Another reporter who witnessed the execution, Troy Hayden, said it was “very disturbing to watch … like a fish on shore gulping for air.”
Typically, executions by lethal injection take about 10 minutes.
Family members of the victims had a less sympathetic take on Wood’s final moments Wednesday.
Jeanne Brown, sister of Debra Dietz and daughter of Eugene Dietz, whom Wood was convicted of murdering, witnessed the execution. She said it sounded more like Wood was snoring than gasping for air.
“What I saw with him today being executed — this was nothing,” she said.
SOURCE: Michael Kiefer and Mariana Dale
The Arizona Republic