Today’s execution of Joseph Wood in Arizona took nearly two hours as he repeatedly gasped and snorted, according to witnesses. Some reports say that Wood gasped more than 600 times during the process. In coverage by CNN, a media witness from KSAZ likened Wood’s breathing to a “fish gulping for air” and said it was difficult for everyone in the room to watch.
The events in Arizona come less than three months after the horribly botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma, which reignited a national conversation about the secrecy now surrounding lethal injection protocols throughout the country. Legal challenges in Wood’s case sought to force the state to disclose the source of the drugs used to carry out lethal injections. Unlike states like Texas that use a single dose of pentobarbital, Arizona now uses the sedative midazolam and painkiller hydromorphone. This was the same combination of drugs used in a problematic execution in Ohio in January.
Statement from Attorney for Joseph Wood Re: Tonight’s Bungled Execution
The following is a statement from Dale Baich, one of Joseph Wood’s attorneys, regarding today’s execution:
“The experiment using midazolam combined with hydromorphone to carry out an execution failed today in Arizona. It took Joseph Wood two hours to die, and he gasped and struggled to breath for about an hour and forty minutes. 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. 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 and demand to make this process more transparent.”
-July 23, 2014