U.S. News


Ariz. Gov. Orders Review After Inmate's Prolonged Execution

Death row inmate Joseph Wood reportedly gasped for air and gargled for an hour and forty minutes in what's being called another "botched" execution.
Posted at 11:48 PM, Jul 23, 2014

It took nearly two hours for an Arizona death row inmate to take his last breath Wednesday after what's being called a botched execution. (Via KNXV)

"The first seven minutes, he closed his eyes and started going to sleep. Then he started gasping." (Via NBC)

"He started kind of gulping and gasping for air, is how it was described. Almost if you catch a fish and throw the fish on the bank with the way the fish will open its mouth and close its mouth. That's kind of what we saw." (Via KSAZ)

Joseph Wood was put to death Wednesday for the 1989 shooting deaths of his estranged girlfriend and her father. But the argument over lethal injection drugs came to the forefront once again following the execution — which should've lasted only a few minutes. 

Wood had protested against the use of the so-called "experimental" drug combinations following the botched executions of two death row inmates in both Oklahoma and Ohio earlier this year. (Via Getty Images)

But Wood's execution lasted nearly twice as those previous two. In fact, Wood's attorneys filed for an emergency stay a little more than an hour after the drugs were first administered, saying "He is still alive." (Via U.S. District Courts)

The Director of the ACLU's Capital Punishment Project wrote in a statement, "It's time for Arizona and the other states still using lethal injection to admit that this experiment with unreliable drugs is a failure."

But the origins of the drugs were of no concern to the family of the victims, who said the media's attention has been misplaced. 

"I'm so sick and tired of you guys blowing this drug stuff out of proportion because to me, that's B.S." (Via AZCentral.com)

"Why didn't we give him a bullet? Why didn't we give him some Draino? Why didn't we give him something else. Everybody is worried about the drug?" (Via KPNX)

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer ordered the Department of Corrections to conduct a review over the length of time it took for Wood to die, but added that he "died in a lawful manner and by eyewitness and medical accounts he did not suffer. 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." (Via Office of Governor Jan Brewer)

Wood's execution was the first for Arizona this year.