"Arizona Takes Nearly 2 Hours to Execute Inmate," is the New York Times report by Erik Eckholm.
In another unexpectedly prolonged execution using disputed lethal injection drugs, a condemned Arizona prisoner on Wednesday repeatedly gasped for one hour and 40 minutes, according to witnesses, before dying at an Arizona state prison.
At 1:52 p.m. Wednesday, one day after the United States Supreme Court overturned a stay of execution granted by a federal appeals court last Saturday, the execution of Joseph R. Wood III commenced.
But what would normally be a 10- to 15-minute procedure dragged on for nearly two hours, as Mr. Wood appeared repeatedly to gasp, according to witnesses including reporters and one of his federal defenders, Dale Baich.
"Arizona execution takes nearly 2 hours," is the updated Associated Press filing.
It is the third prolonged execution this year in the U.S., including one in Ohio in which an inmate gasped in similar fashion for nearly a half-hour. An Oklahoma inmate died of a heart attack in April, minutes after prison officials halted his execution because the drugs weren't being administered properly.
Gov. Jan Brewer said later that she's ordering a full review of the state's execution process, saying she's concerned by how long it took for the administered drug protocol to kill Wood.
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne's office said Wood was pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m., one hour and 57 minutes after the execution started.
"Two-hour Arizona execution sparks calls for rethink on death penalty," by David Schwartz for Reuters, via Yahoo News.
Lawyers for a double-murderer whose lethal injection in Arizona dragged on for two hours called for an outside review of the "horrifically botched execution" and prompted new calls on Thursday for the United States to abandon the death penalty.
The ordeal in putting Joseph Wood to death on Wednesday at a prison facility southeast of Phoenix followed lethal injections that went awry this year in Ohio and Oklahoma, renewing the U.S. debate over capital punishment.
Corrections officials said Wood was never in pain but Rob Freer, a U.S. researcher with human-rights group Amnesty International, asked, "How many more times do officials need to be reminded of the myth of the 'humane execution' before they give up on their experiment with judicial killing?"
The Los Angeles Times reports, "Arizona killer takes 2 hours to die, fueling lethal-injection debate," by Matt Pearce, Cindy Carcamo, and Maya Srikrishnan.
Joseph Rudolph Wood III's execution almost certainly will reinvigorate the national debate over the death penalty. He received an injection at 1:52 p.m. at the Arizona State Prison Complex in Florence. The execution became so prolonged that reporters witnessing the execution counted several hundred of his wheezes before he was finally declared dead at 3:49 p.m. — nearly two hours after the procedure began.
The incident comes in a year in which lethal injections had already triggered controversy over botched procedures and secrecy.
Wood had fought without success to get more information about the drugs and the expertise of his executioners. His request, which was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court, prompted one prominent appellate judge to call for the return of the firing squad.
"Arizona Says Inmate Who Died After Nearly Two-Hour Execution Did Not Suffer," is by Dustin Volz at National Journal.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced Wednesday evening that she had asked her state's Department of Corrections to "conduct a full review" of its execution process. While noting concern for the length of time it took for Wood's death to be called, Brewer struck a largely defensive tone.
"Wood died in a lawful manner and by eyewitness and medical accounts he did not suffer," Brewer, a Republican, said in a statement. "This is in stark comparison to the gruesome, vicious suffering that he inflicted on his two victims—and the lifetime of suffering he has caused their family."
Other state officials in the attorney general's office said they believed Wood had not suffered. Michael Kiefer, an eyewitness reporter for The Arizona Republic, said he counted 660 gasps taken by Wood before he slipped into unconsciousness.
"We will renew our efforts to get information about the manufacturer of drugs as well as how Arizona came up with the experimental formula of drugs it used today," Wood's attorney, Dale Baich, said in a statement. "Arizona appears to have joined several other states who have been responsible for an entirely preventable horror—a bungled execution. The public should hold its officials responsible and demand to make this process more transparent."
The Guardian posts, "Joseph Wood: Arizona murderer dies almost two hours after execution begins,"
by Ed Pilkington
Baich said the state's investigation would be insufficiently independent. “Because the governor and the highest law enforcement official in Arizona have already expressed their view that Mr Wood did not suffer, and because the state of Arizona fought tooth and nail to protect the extreme secrecy surrounding its lethal injection drugs and execution personnel, the only way to begin to remedy this is with open government and transparency,” he said.
In a later interview with Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, Baich said that he had witnessed 11 executions but never any that took so long. He accused Arizona of carrying out an experiment on his client even though state officials had been fully aware of a previous botched execution that had taken place in Ohio using the same drug combination. He pledged to continue the effort to find out who made the drugs used in the execution of his client.
The chief judge of the ninth circuit federal appeals court, Alex Kozinski, told the Guardian that he was not surprised by what had happened. “I have seen this coming for a long time. It's hard to watch these executions and not realise that these blunders are bound to happen,” he said.
In his dissenting opinion to the stay of execution issued by the appeals court this week, Kozinski argued that the use in executions of drugs designed to help sick people was an “enterprise doomed to failure”. On Wednesday, he told the Guardian that he had thought about the problems with lethal injections for a long time, and that though his criticisms were not geared specifically to the Wood case in particular, he had decided it was time to speak out.
"Arizona execution lasts nearly two hours; lawyer says Joseph Wood was ‘gasping and struggling to breathe’," by Mark Berman at the Washington Post.
Wood was the third inmate executed in Arizona since last October and the first put to death using a combination of the drugs midazolam and hydromorphone.
Attorneys for Wood had argued that more information was needed regarding the drugs that would be used in the execution. Arizona planned to use a two-drug combination that had been used only once before in an execution. (That episode, a lethal injection in Ohio, lasted for nearly 25 minutes. Witnesses said the inmate was snorting and gasping during the process.)
Additional coverage includes:
"Condemned man's US execution takes nearly two hours," by AFP, via Global Post.
"Executed Arizona inmate 'gasping' for more than hour," by Danielle Haynes for UPI.
"Another botched execution? Inmate gasps during two-hour execution," by Dana Ford, Amanda Watts and Jason Hanna at CNN.
ABC News posts, "Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began in Arizona," by Bill McGuire and Danielle Genet.
NBC News posts, "Arizona Execution of Joseph Wood Took Nearly Two Hours," by Tracy Connor and M. Alex Johnson.
"Investigation launched over 2-hour ‘bungled’ Arizona execution," at Al Jazeera America.
Video and audio links are also available. Phoenix station KSAZ-TV has video of a post-execution news conference, held at the prison.
NPR Morning Edition aired, "Complications During Ariz. Inmate's Execution Reignite Controversy," by Jude Joffe-Block of Phoeniz public radio station KJZZ-FM.
Last night's Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC carried, "Update: Arizona execution takes nearly two hours."
Earlier coverage of Arizona's botched execution begins with the preceding post.