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July 23, 2014

After stays vacated, Arizona needs two hours to complete another ugly execution

As reported in this AP piece, "Arizona executed Joseph R. Wood on Wednesday afternoon, but the execution lasted for nearly two hours as Wood struggled to breathe, according to his attorneys."  Here are more of still-developing details of the latest in a series of ugly executions in 2014:

During his execution, Wood’s attorneys filed a request to halt the lethal injection because he was still awake more than an hour after the process began. Wood was “gasping and snorting for more than an hour,” they wrote in their filing.

The execution continued and Wood was pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m. (local time), the office of Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said. This was nearly two hours after the execution began at 1:52 p.m.

Wood was the third inmate executed in Arizona since last October and the first put to death using a combination of the drugs midazolam and hydromorphone. “The experiment using midazolam combined with hydromorphone to carry out an execution failed today in Arizona,” Dale Baich, an attorney for Wood, said in a statement. “It took Joseph Wood two hours to die, and he gasped and struggled to breath for about an hour and forty minutes.”

Baich said he and others would continue seeking information about the drugs used. “Arizona appears to have joined several other states who have been responsible for an entirely preventable horror — a bungled execution,” Baich said. “The public should hold its officials responsible and demand to make this process more transparent.”

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July 23, 2014 at 07:52 PM | Permalink


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even for ardent dp supporters (like me) this is too much. Judge Kozinski is absolutely correct. Go back to the firing squad.

Posted by: anon1 | Jul 23, 2014 11:47:08 PM

Not a word about the suffering of his victims from the pro-criminal lawyer. The condemned felt nothing being in a coma.

From the Murderpedia.

Date of Birth: December 6, 1958
Defendant: Caucasian
Victim: Caucasian

Wood and his 29-year-old ex-girlfriend, Debbie Dietz, had been involved in a turbulent relationship for 5 years, which had been marred by numerous breakups and several domestic violent incidents. Debbie was working at a local body shop owned by her family.

On August 7, 1989, Wood walked into the shop and shot Gene Dietz, age 55, in the chest with a .38 caliber revolver, killing him. Gene Dietz's 70-year-old brother was present and tried to stop Wood, but Wood pushed him away and proceeded into another section of the body shop.

Wood went up to Debbie, placed her in some type of hold, and shot her once in the abdomen and once in the chest, killing her.

Wood then fled the building. Two police officers approached Wood and ordered him to drop his weapon. After Wood placed the weapon on the ground, he reached down and picked it up, and pointed it at the officers. The officers fired, striking Wood several times. Wood was transported to a local hospital where he underwent extensive surgery.


Presiding Judge: G. Thomas Meehan
Prosecutor: Thomas Zawada
Start of Trial: February 19, 1991
Verdict: February 25, 1991
Sentencing: July 2, 1991

Aggravating Circumstances:

Grave risk of death to others
Multiple homicides

Mitigating Circumstances:

None sufficient to call for leniency


State v. Wood, 180 Ariz. 53, 881 P.2d 1158 (1994).

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 24, 2014 12:11:17 AM

Supremacy - so the death penalty is about matching atrocity with atrocity? If this behavior was conducted in a war it would be called a war crime - with the perpetrators brought to account! As it is, it is a clear breach of Human Rights, contravenes the US Constitution in as brazen a manner as is conceivable, and is an affront to norms of human decency. Has the US Supreme Court lost leave of its senses? This has to end.

Posted by: peter | Jul 24, 2014 2:34:36 AM

Peter: Tell us how your relatives died, how long it took for 90% of them, did illegal aliens have to clean them up every day, and what agonies they suffered. They did not commit a heinous crime. The average death takes weeks or months, is agonizing, and humiliating as functions stop working. The sole reason the vicious murderer has to have the very rare perfect death is that he is the client of the rent seeking death penalty appellate lawyer, worth $millions in worthless government make work jobs, really brazen stealing from the taxpayer. I blame the appellate judges. They are all on the arrest list. While I may or may not have the physical courage to carry out the execution I demand others carry out on a serial child murderer, I would have zero hesitation in carrying the summary death sentences on the lawyer hierarchy, as a patriotic duty, to save our nation. All are in insurrection against the constitution and must be stopped.

This bird was in a coma and did not stop breathing. On the other hand, the lawyer traitor has had skillful health providers intimidated from carrying out reliable deaths. The lawyer traitor has intimidated suppliers of effective poisons from supplying them. The lawyer traitor made the public wait 30 years for justice, with no question of innocence, with the guy caught red handed at the scene. So the botched execution is 100% the fault of the death penalty appellate defense bar.

I like the electric chair, because one is dead at the speed of electricity passing through the brain. The burning flesh and fires are post mortem and disturb only the left wing audience.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 24, 2014 3:11:06 AM

Supremacy - it is absurd to compare the death penalty with a natural death. No-one deliberately sets out to subject the dying to pain and discomfort, or to a lingering death. In fact, there is a growing demand for assisted death to avoid the worst of those circumstances. Your usual graphic rant is, I would imagine, becoming an embarrsassment even to the "right", who you seem to believe your natural allies, though what politics has to do with a consideration of humanity is beyond me. Neither is it rational to mimic the actions of a murderer to show one's distain for the crime and criminal.

Posted by: peter | Jul 24, 2014 4:58:42 AM

The 90% rate of lingering painful deaths, makes a two hour death not unusual, except for its brevity. His unconsciousness during that time, and no evidence of pain or distress on his face is evidence of absence of cruelty. People in a deep coma who have painful procedures will wince or withdraw and do express some awareness of pain. His peaceful mien says, no distress. That covers the Cruel and Unusual Clause.

I know you are frustrated by the facts, and have to make personal remarks. I am not. I have no allies, since the right wing is just as rent seeking, as the left, perhaps on behalf of a different constituency. And right wing Justices have betrayed the constitution as frequently as the left, and often joined with the left to hurt the public and crime victims. I represent the public interest in its raw, utilitarian, empirical, real world version. No lawyer dominated party does. I am for what works. No lawyer run party is.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 24, 2014 6:13:23 AM

Peter: I also have demanded fairness credit in proposing novel but self-evident and powerful arguments for the defense, where appropriate. This makes me fairly objective, and less partisan. I am also dependent on government for income, and greatly profit from the crimes of others, so all my rent seeking arguments are against economic interest and morally superior.


General deterrence violates the Fifth Amendment Procedural Due Process right to a fair trial, punishing the defendant for the speculative future crimes of people he has never met.

There is a cruelty in the death penalty today, the set date. Even the moribund are spared that date certain. In Japan the person and family are informed the day of the execution, just like most of us find out the date of our deaths, at that time, and not for months before.

Publicity about an execution may cause contagion in a Werther effect. Research should look into clusters of murders or suicide after publicity about an execution. For example, hundreds of kids around the world hanged themselves after watching the hanging of Saddam Hussein on Youtube.

These are powerful defense arguments never used by the lawyer dumbass on the other side.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 24, 2014 6:28:04 AM

For anyone to be glad for the suffering of another human being is, I think, a failure of the recognition of our shared humanity. What diminishes any of us diminishes us all.

Posted by: Guy | Jul 24, 2014 8:53:15 AM


Completely agreed. Bullets are cheaper, effective, and you won't have to worry about manufacturers refusing to sell them to corrections departments.

Posted by: Res ipsa | Jul 24, 2014 9:22:22 AM

If we wanted to go "back" to the most common method of execution, it would be hanging. Traditionally, the firing squad was generally a method for the military. A state like Utah has it partially because of the religious sentiments of the population. Also, being a long term federal area, the traditional military method would be a logical approach. It also might in some fashion be more popular in Western areas for whatever reason.

So, long before current concerns, the firing squad was not a common method for the general murderer. The general public, I think, find it squicky and a too blunt method, too close to a run of the mill killing. There is a certain honesty to this, yes, but unlike Judge Kozinski, the general public isn't up for that sort of thing here.

I'm against the death penalty, but I guess the firing squad would be better if we had the death penalty. I have read some accounts that suggest it would be the most humane. It would take years for a new method to be put in place and to handle appeals regarding its unusual nature etc. But, the biggest reason is that the public doesn't like it.

Posted by: Joe | Jul 24, 2014 10:22:36 AM

Joe, hanging would be fine as well.

Posted by: anon1 | Jul 24, 2014 10:50:04 AM

Hanging would solve some problems but is seen as either barbaric or outdated by the general public & will probably if used as the general means of execution, would have its own problems in action.

Posted by: Joe | Jul 24, 2014 11:08:07 AM

Life without parole seems like a pretty good execution method. They never botch it, it doesn't have similar Eighth Amendment issues, and it's reversible in cases of innocence.

Posted by: Josh | Jul 24, 2014 2:18:33 PM

"TRANSCRIPT: Lawyer's Frantic Call To Judge During Arizona's Botched Execution"


Posted by: Joe | Jul 24, 2014 4:28:51 PM

Even the Senator for Arizona thinks this execution was botched and amounted to torture:

" A botched execution in Arizona on Wednesday amounted to “torture,” said the state’s senior senator John McCain. The longtime Republican lawmaker, who experienced years of torture while being held in captivity by the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam war, called the drawn-out lethal injection execution of Joseph Wood on Wednesday “terrible.”

“I believe in the death penalty for certain crimes. But that is not an acceptable way of carrying it out. And people who were responsible should be held responsible,” he said in an interview. “The lethal injection needs to be an indeed lethal injection and not the bollocks-uped situation that just prevailed. That’s torture.”

Posted by: observer | Jul 24, 2014 5:09:26 PM

Decapitation , albeit icky , would work quickly with proper blade , properly used •

Organs would also be available for transplant •

Posted by: Docile Jim Brady C-bus OH 43209 | Jul 24, 2014 5:48:24 PM

If he was sedated how could he have been in pain?

Posted by: MikeinCT | Jul 24, 2014 7:17:56 PM

MikeinCt: you write "If he was sedated how could he have been in pain?"

Apparently, he was not sedated enough.

Posted by: anon1 | Jul 25, 2014 12:08:49 AM

What makes you say that? None of the accounts I've read so far say he was conscious.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Jul 25, 2014 4:54:26 PM

Even unconscious people wince and make other signs of distress. None were seen here. Again the lawyer is using fictitious assertions to promote their sick rent seeking, pro-criminal agenda. It is not even pro-criminal. It is pro lawyer job generation, and without disclosure of this conflict of interest.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 25, 2014 9:03:20 PM

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