WASHINGTON – A death row convict in the US snorted and struggled to breathe in a nearly two-hour execution that went horribly wrong, media reported Thursday.
Joseph Wood, 55, a double murderer, took two hours to die, while he gasped and struggled to breathe for about an hour and 40 minutes Wednesday after he was administered with a lethal injection in the US state of Arizona, CNN reported.
“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,” CNN quoted Wood’s attorney Dale Baich as saying.
The attorney said that the state appears to have joined several other American states which have been responsible for an entirely preventable horror – a bungled execution.
The execution procedure began at 1.52 p.m. and concluded, with Wood being pronounced dead, at 3.49 p.m.
“He was still breathing and struggling to breathe and gasping and snorting. I have witnessed 10 executions, and I had never seen that before,” Baich told CNN.
The sight of the dying inmate prompted Wood’s attorneys to file for an emergency motion for a stay after his execution began.
Meanwhile, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer directed the department of corrections to review the process.
Consequently, a federal judge ordered local officials to preserve all physical evidence in Wood’s execution.
Brewer said she was concerned by the length of time it took to carry out the execution by lethal injection.
“One thing is certain, however, inmate Wood 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,” Brewer said.
Woods had earlier approached the state Supreme Court claiming among other things that the state was going to use an “experimental” drug protocol of midazolam and hydromorphone.
Wood contended the use of the anaesthetic midazolam was problematic in recent US executions and that it would violate the US Constitution’s guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment.
Wood was “very concerned they were experimenting”, Baich said.
Wood was convicted of murder and assault in the 1989 deaths of his estranged girlfriend and her father.
Arizona’s corrections department, in a statement, said that it followed protocol in Wood’s execution, re-affirming his “deep sedation” seven times before he was pronounced dead.
The death row inmate was first set to be executed at 10 a.m. though it was temporarily halted when the court said it would consider his request for the justices to review his claims.
The court lifted the stay shortly after that, saying without explanation that it considered the request but decided not to review Wood’s case.
The state of Arizona appealed to the US Supreme Court, the nation’s highest, which Tuesday ruled the execution could go ahead.
Wood was the latest American death row inmate to argue that an anaesthetic recently introduced in some states’ execution protocols could fail to sufficiently knock out the inmate ahead of the lethal drugs, subjecting the person to an agonising death, the report said. — IANS