UK & World News
Death Row Inmate Takes Two Hours To Die
A death row inmate "gasped and snorted" for more than an hour before dying in another botched execution in the US, his lawyers and witnesses said.
Joseph Rudolph Wood, a 55-year-old Arizona killer, took nearly two hours to die by lethal injection in a Florence prison complex.
His lawyers filed an emergency appeal in federal court during the execution, demanding that it be stopped and saying: "He is still alive."
An Associated Press reporter who witnessed the execution saw Wood gasping for air in "five to twelve second intervals for almost two hours".
The office of Attorney General Tom Horne said Wood was pronounced dead at 3.49pm local time, one hour and 57 minutes after the lethal injection process started - meaning it took 12 times longer than normal for him to die.
Defence lawyer Dale Baich said the execution should have taken 10 minutes.
The case is sure to add scrutiny to how inmates are put to death in the US amid a shortage of execution drugs and experimenting with new cocktails of drugs.
Wood was sentenced to death for killing his estranged girlfriend Debra Dietz, 29, and her father, Eugene Dietz, in 1989 at the family's automotive shop in Tucson.
He first shot Mr Dietz to death with a revolver. Wood then grabbed Ms Dietz, who was trying to call for help, by the neck and put his gun to her chest.
She begged him to spare her life, but another employee heard Wood telling her: "I have to kill you" before he shot her twice in the chest.
Relatives of the victims said they were not bothered by the way the execution was carried out.
"He conducted a horrifying murder, and you worry about the drug and how it affects him," said Richard Brown, Ms Dietz's the brother-in-law
"Why didn't they give him a bullet? Why didn't we give him Drano?" he added, referring to a brand of drain cleaner.
The civil rights group American Civil Liberties Union said Wood "suffered cruel and unusual punishment".
"It's time for Arizona and the other states still using lethal injection to admit that this experiment with unreliable drugs is a failure," it said in a statement.
But the state's Department of Corrections director Charles Ryan said he had been assured during the execution that Wood was "never in pain or distress".
Arizona governor Jan Brewer has ordered a review of the process, but also said: "One thing is certain, however, inmate Wood died in a lawful manner and by eyewitness and medical accounts he did not suffer."
The execution bears similarities to that of Clayton Lockett, an Oklahoma inmate who was seen writhing in pain and took 43 minutes to die last April.
States have refused to reveal which pharmacies are supplying lethal injection drugs and who is administering them because of fears of harassment.