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Arizona Inmate Was ‘Alive’ and ‘Gasping’ for Air More Than One Hour Into Execution, His Lawyers Say


"Very disturbing to watch."

FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Arizona Department of Corrections shows inmate Joseph Rudolph Wood. The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, July 22, 2014, allowed the Arizona executionof Wood to go forward amid a closely watched First Amendment fight over the secrecy surrounding lethal injection drugs in the country. (AP Photo/Arizona Department of Corrections, File) AP Photo/Arizona Department of Corrections, File

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has asked for an investigation after the lawyer for an inmate sentenced to death said his client remained alive and gasping for air nearly two hours into his execution Wednesday.

"It took Joseph Wood two hours to die and he gasped and struggled to breathe for about an hour and 40 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," attorney Dale Baich said in a statement.

Brewer said she was concerned by how long it took Wood to die, but said it did not appear he suffered.

"I am concerned by the length of time it took for the administered drug protocol to complete the lawful execution of the convicted double murderer, Joseph Wood," she said in a statement. "While justice was carried out today, I directed the Department of Corrections to conduct a full review of the process."

"Only thing is certain, however, inmate Wood died in a lawful manner and by eyewitness and medical accounts he did not suffer," she added. "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."

According to an emergency stay of execution request Wood's lawyers made earlier, the inmate had been “gasping and snorting” for more than one hour after the execution began.

Image source: Scribd Image source: Scribd

“He is still alive,” the stay request said. “This execution has violated Mr. Wood’s Eighth Amendment right to be executed in the absence of cruel and unusual punishment.”

“We respectfully request that this Court stop the execution and require the Department of Corrections use the lifesaving provisions required in its protocol,” it added.

A reporter who witnessed the execution said Wood gasped about 660 times before dying.

Another reporter who witnessed the execution tweeted that it was "very disturbing to watch."

Wood was convicted of the 1989 shooting deaths of his estranged girlfriend and her father.

This undated file photo provided by the Arizona Department of Corrections shows inmate Joseph Rudolph Wood. (AP Photo/Arizona Department of Corrections, File)

The Supreme Court allowed the execution to move forward on Wednesday after the 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals put it on hold over controversy surrounding the secrecy of the state’s new lethal injection drugs.

This story has been updated.

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