Arizona Man Gasps and Snorts During Lethal Injection Execution That Took Nearly Two Hours

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
July 23 2014 7:55 PM

Arizona Man Gasps and Snorts During Lethal Injection Execution That Took Nearly Two Hours

Was6621928
The debate over lethal injections continues.

Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages

After a high-profile legal battle over the drugs used in the lethal injection cocktail, the execution of convicted murder, Joseph Wood, finally went ahead in Arizona on Wednesday. The execution was carried out, but how it took place will surely add fuel to the growing controversy over lethal injections in America.

According to the AP, Wood “was put to death in an apparently flawed procedure that took too long to conclude. An hour into the execution, his lawyers [filed] an emergency [Supreme Court] appeal, saying he'd been ‘gasping’ and ‘snorting’ for an hour… Word that Justice Anthony Kennedy denied the appeal came about a half hour after Wood's death.” The AP reporter on the scene witnessed Wood gasp more than 600 times before he died from a procedure that experts say should have taken 10 minutes.

Advertisement

Here’s more from NBC News:

The execution of Joseph Wood — which Arizona carried out with a lethal-injection it had never before tried — is certain to fan the debate over how U.S. states carry out the death penalty. Midway through the execution, defense attorneys asked a judge to stop the execution of Joseph Wood and order prison officials to try to resuscitate him. But before the court acted, he was pronounced dead. "The execution commenced at 1:52 p.m. at the Arizona State Prison Complex (ASPC) - Florence. He was pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m," a statement Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said. The statement did not say what problems the execution team had encountered, but Wood's lawyers painted a macabre picture.

Wood was given the death penalty for the double murder of his girlfriend and her father in 1989. On Tuesday a federal appeals court sided with Wood’s lawyers who in seeking to delay the execution, the Associated Press reports, “used a new legal tactic in which defense attorneys claim their clients' First Amendment rights are being violated by the government's refusal to reveal details about lethal injection drugs.” The legal team was seeking information on the drug combination used by the state of Arizona. The Supreme Court, however, overruled the stay, allowing the execution to be carried out.

Wood’s apparently mishandled execution comes on the heels of the gruesome botched Oklahoma execution of Clayton Lockett in April.

*This post has been updated.

*Correction, July 23, 2014: This post originally misstated Clayton Lockett was executed in Ohio. The execution took place in Oklahoma.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Irritating Confidante

John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee

Culturebox

The Simpsons World App Is Finally Here

I feel like a kid in some kind of store.

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

The Difference Between Being a Hero and an Altruist

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 12:44 AM We Need More Ben Bradlees His relationship with John F. Kennedy shows what’s missing from today’s Washington journalism.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
Outward
Oct. 22 2014 10:37 AM Judge Upholds Puerto Rico’s Gay Marriage Ban in a Comically Inane Opinion
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 10:00 AM On the Internet, Men Are Called Names. Women Are Stalked and Sexually Harassed.
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 22 2014 6:00 AM Why It’s OK to Ask People What They Do David Plotz talks to two junior staffers about the lessons of Working.
  Arts
Culturebox
Oct. 22 2014 9:54 AM The Simpsons World App Is Finally Here I feel like a kid in some kind of store.
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 22 2014 10:29 AM Apple TV Could Still Work Here’s how Apple can fix its living-room product.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 22 2014 10:30 AM Monster Sunspot Will Make Thursday’s Eclipse That Much Cooler
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.