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“‘Joe Wood is dead, but it took him two hours to die,’” Troy Hayden of Phoenix’s KSAZ-TV and an eyewitness to the execution of Joe Wood was quoted as saying in a July 23 NPR story. “‘And to watch a man lay there for an hour and 40 minutes gulping air, I can liken it to, if you catch a fish and throw it on the shore, the way the fish opens and closes its mouth.’”

“The Arizona Department of Corrections began the execution of Joseph Rudolph Wood III at 1:52 p.m. At 1:57 p.m. ADC reported that Mr. Wood was sedated, but at 2:02 he began to breathe. At 2:03 his mouth moved. Mr. Wood has continued to breathe since that time. He has been gasping and snorting for more than an hour. At 3:02 p.m. At that time, staff rechecked for sedation. He is still alive. This execution has violated Mr. Wood’s Eighth Amendment right to be executed in the absence of cruel and unusual punishment,” stated the emergency motion filed by Wood’s attorney to stay the execution on the grounds that it violated Woods’ constitutional rights. The motion called for reviving Woods, but he died within an hour of the papers being filed.

States’ experiments with new, untested lethal injection protocols are real-life — or real-death — demonstrations of what can go wrong when governments are allowed to execute people using untested and dubious execution methods. “The experiment using midazolam combined with hydromorphone to carry out an execution failed today in Arizona,” said Dale Baich, one of Wood’s attorney, in the NPR report. “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.”

Read the full story from NPR News, “Arizona execution of inmate takes nearly 2 hours” (July 23, 2014).

Read more about the death penalty in the United States from The Advocates Post:

 Bring Back the Firing Squad (July 22, 2014)

End “Tinkering with the machinery of death”  (June 18, 2014)

Another Botched Execution (April 30, 2014)

Lives on the Line: Will Supreme Court Hold U.S. Accountable for the Death Penalty? (April 3, 2014)

“I did not want to live like an animal…,” death row exonoree tells U.S. Congress (February 28, 2014)

Dennis McGuire’s Execution: A Real-Life—or Real-Death—Example of Cruel and Inhuman Punishment (January 17, 2014)

Was Executed 14-Year-Old Innocent? (November 8, 2013)

Two Percent of U.S. Counties Responsible for Majority of Executions (October 14, 2013)


By: Ashley Monk, development & communications assistant at The Advocates for Human Rights

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One thought on “Execution in Arizona Takes 2 Hours

  1. I think that this is just horrible and completely inhumane. I don’t care what the person has done. Impersonally don’t think that anyone has the right to kill someone in such a fashion, or any fashion for that matter. Another huge issue in this story is that the states are getting these drugs from unnamed sources.
    -Kaitlyn

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