Double murderer's "bungled execution" brings no sympathy from victims' family
Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - 01:16
Victims' family members say double murderer Joseph Wood did not appear to suffer during his execution on Wednesday, even though the process took almost two hours to complete. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
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An Arizona inmate took almost two hours to die by lethal injection on Wednesday and his lawyers say he "gasped and snorted" before succumbing in the latest botched execution to raise questions about the death penalty in the United States.
The execution of convicted double murderer Joseph Wood began at 1:52 p.m. at a state prison complex, and the 55-year-old was pronounced dead just shy of two hours later at 3:49 p.m., 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 U.S. 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."
But family members of the victims say what they saw during the execution was nothing compared to the harm Wood inflicted on his victims.
"I don't believe he was gasping for air, I don't believe he was suffering, sounded to me as though he was snoring," said Jeanne Brown, a family member of the victims.
Wood was found guilty in 1991 of fatally shooting his former girlfriend, Debbie Dietz, 29, and her father, Gene Dietz, 55, two years earlier at a family automobile body shop in Tucson.
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.
"One thing is certain, however, inmate Wood died in a lawful manner and by eyewitness and medical accounts he did not suffer," the Republican governor said in a statement.
"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."
An Arizona Republic 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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