Public Safety & Justice

Arizona Execution Drags on for Almost 2 Hours

July 24, 2014

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.

State officials insisted that Mr. Wood had been comatose throughout the procedure and did not suffer.

In a bizarre twist, Mr. Wood’s lawyers filed an emergency appeal to a Federal District Court to halt the procedure as Mr. Wood lay on the gurney, and they even called Justice Anthony M. Kennedy of the United States Supreme Court.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. You can enter an anonymous Display Name or connect to a social profile.

More from Public Safety & Justice