Arizona Botched Execution: Joseph Rudolph Wood III Dies 2 Hours After Lethal Injection

UPDATE 8:39 p.m. EDT: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer ordered a review of Wood's execution, saying she was "concerned" over how long it took Wood to die, according to NBC News. But she also said that Wood didn't suffer, while he inflicted "gruesome, vicious suffering" on his victims.

UPDATE 7:54 p.m. EDT: The American Civil Liberties Union slammed Arizona for going forward with the execution in light of the botched execution in Oklahoma and Ohio earlier this year.

"Today the state of Arizona broke the Eighth Amendment, the First Amendment, and the bounds of basic decency," Cassandra Stubbs, director of the ACLU's Capital Punishment Project, said in a statement. "Joseph Wood suffered cruel and unusual punishment when he was apparently left conscious long after the drugs were administered. According to his emergency papers filed by his attorneys, he was choking and snorting over an hour into the process. In its rush to put Mr. Wood to death in secret, Arizona ignored the dire and clear warnings from the botched executions of Oklahoma and Ohio. It's time for Arizona and the other states still using lethal injection to admit that this experiment with unreliable drugs is a failure. Instead of hiding lethal injection under layers of foolish secrecy, these states need to show us where the drugs are come from. Until they can give assurances that the drugs will work as intended, they must stop future executions."

Original story:

It took Arizona death row inmate Joseph Rudolph Wood III two hours to die during his execution by lethal injection Wednesday. An hour after the procedure started -- when he was still alive and breathing -- his attorneys filed a motion for an emergency stay of execution. Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said the execution started at 1:52 p.m. local time and ended at 3:49 p.m., according to breakingnews.com.

Wood was “gasping and snorting for more than an hour,” according to the motion filed by his lawyers in Arizona federal court. Wood's attorneys said the execution constituted cruel and unusual punishment, a violation of Wood’s Eighth Amendment right.

“The Arizona Department of Corrections began the execution of Joseph Rudolph Wood III at 1:52 p.m. At 1:57 p.m. ADC reported that Mr. Wood was sedated, but at 2:02 he began to breathe. At 2:03 his mouth moved. Mr. Wood has continued to breathe since that time. He has been gasping and snorting for more than an hour. At 3:02 p.m. At that time, staff rechecked for sedation. He is still alive. This execution has violated Mr. Wood’s Eighth Amendment right to be executed in the absence of cruel and unusual punishment. We respectfully request that this Court stop the execution and require that the Department of Corrections use the lifesaving provisions required in its protocol,” the attorneys said.

Earlier in the day, the Arizona Supreme Court lifted a brief stay of execution for Wood. The court did not give an explanation, but the ruling meant that the justices decided not to hear Wood's reasons for staying the execution.

Wood was sentenced to death for the 1989 double-murder of his estranged girlfriend, Debra Dietz, and her father, Eugene Dietz, according to court papers.

View the full court filing below:

 

  Joseph Rudolph III Emergency Stay of Execution

 

Join the Discussion