US execution takes 2 hours, stirs row


An Arizona inmate took almost two hours to die by lethal injection on July 22 and his lawyers said he “gasped and snorted” before succumbing in the latest botched execution to raise questions about the death penalty in the US. The execution of convicted double murderer Joseph Wood began at 1.52pm at a state prison complex, and the 55- year-old was pronounced dead just shy of two hours later at 3.49pm, the Arizona attorney general’s office said. During that time, his lawyers filed an unsuccessful emergency appeal to multiple federal courts that sought to have the execution halted and their client given life-saving medical treatment.

The appeal, which said the procedure violated his constitutional right to be executed without suffering cruel and unusual punishment, was denied by Justice Anthony Kennedy of the US Supreme Court. “He gasped and struggled to breathe for about an hour and 40 minutes,” said one of Wood’s attorneys, Dale Baich. “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.

” Arizona Governor Jan Brewer expressed concern over how long the procedure took and ordered the state’s Department of Corrections to conduct a full review, but said justice had been done and that the execution was lawful. Inmate Wood died in a lawful manner and by eyewitness and medical accounts he did not suffer,” the Republican governor said.

“This is in stark comparison to the gruesome, vicious suffering that he inflicted on his two victims, and the lifetime of suffering he caused their family.” A journalist who witnessed the execution said he counted the inmate gasping for breath about 660 times. “I just know it was not efficient,” said the reporter, Michael Kiefer. “It took a long time.

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