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Arizona inmate dies 2 hours after execution began

FLORENCE, Ariz. (AP) - A condemned Arizona inmate gasped and snorted for more than an hour and a half during his execution Wednesday before he died, his lawyers said, in an episode sure to add to the scrutiny surrounding the death penalty in the U.S.

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne's office said Joseph Rudolph Wood was pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m., one hour and 57 minutes after the execution started.

Wood's lawyers had filed an emergency appeal in federal court while the execution was underway, demanding that it be stopped. The appeal said Wood was "gasping and snorting for more than an hour."

The lawyers said the execution started at 1:52 p.m., but Wood continued to breathe and was alive an hour and 10 minutes later. Defense lawyer Dale Baich called it a botched execution that should have taken 10 minutes.

A message seeking comment was left with the Arizona Department of Corrections.

An Associated Press reporter witnessed the execution but could not immediately communicate with anyone outside the state prison in Florence where the execution took place.

Wood's case highlighted scrutiny surrounding lethal injections after two controversial executions, including that of an Ohio inmate in January who snorted and gasped during the 26 minutes it took him to die. In Oklahoma, an inmate died of a heart attack minutes after prison officials halted his execution because the drugs weren't being administered properly.

States have refused to reveal details such as which pharmacies are supplying lethal injection drugs and who is administering them, because of concerns over harassment.

Woods filed several appeals that were denied by the U.S. Supreme Court, including one on the basis that his First Amendment rights were violated when the state refused to reveal details of his execution such as the supplier of the drugs.

The Arizona Supreme Court also delayed the execution Wednesday morning to consider a last-minute appeal about whether Wood received inadequate legal representation at his sentencing. But about an hour later, the state's high court allowed the execution to proceed.

Wood argued he has a First Amendment right to details about the state's method for lethal injections, the qualifications of the executioner and who makes the drugs. Such demands for greater transparency have become a new legal tactic in death penalty cases.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had put the execution on hold, saying the state must reveal the information. But the Supreme Court has not been receptive to the tactic, ruling against death penalty lawyers on the argument each time it has been before justices.

Wood's execution was Arizona's third since October and the state's 36th since 1992.

Wood was convicted in the 1989 shooting deaths of Debbie Dietz, 29, and Gene Dietz, 55, at an auto repair shop in Tucson.

Wood and Dietz had a tumultuous relationship during which he repeatedly assaulted her. Dietz tried to end their relationship and got an order of protection against Wood.

On the day of the shooting, Wood went to the auto shop and waited for Dietz's father, who disapproved of his daughter's relationship with Wood, to get off the phone. Once the father hung up, Wood pulled out a revolver, shot him in the chest and then smiled.

Wood then turned his attention toward Debra Dietz, who was trying to telephone for help. Wood grabbed her by the neck and put his gun to her chest. She pleaded with him to spare her life. An employee heard Wood say, "I told you I was going to do it, I have to kill you." He then called her an expletive and fired two shots in her chest.

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rodshiley71 July 23 2014 at 4:31 PM

This worthless POS should have been executed 25 years ago. Time to clean house and execute all death row inmates who were convicted beyond any shadow of a doubt.

Flag Reply +101 rate up
12 replies
numexind July 23 2014 at 4:30 PM

This "piece of garbage" has been on death row forever. There is a thing called a bullet that will also do the job! Why are we paying for trash like this, who destroy lives and make society responsible for their miserable lives? The system stinks!!

Flag Reply +99 rate up
3 replies
albatroll July 23 2014 at 4:36 PM

Too bad the scum lawyers who are trying to keep this sub-human animal alive can't meet the same fate.

Flag Reply +88 rate up
16 replies
Fred July 23 2014 at 4:14 PM

Display the drugs used proudly and the companys name, then shoot the condemed up to his eyeballs with it. After all, they want to live just like their victims did, the cowards.

Flag Reply +87 rate up
6 replies
lmao4891 July 23 2014 at 4:57 PM

WTF just put a bullet in has brain. No doubt there would be a long line of people willing to pull the trigger. This would only cost the tax payers around a dollar. Option 2 auction the job off to the highest bidder. Tax revenue baby!!

Flag Reply +86 rate up
7 replies
Steve-a-rino July 23 2014 at 4:32 PM

So, death row inmates have First Amendment rights but Sterling, Mel Gibson and others who are NOT in jail do not? Interesting.

Flag Reply +80 rate up
7 replies
boardsrbetter July 23 2014 at 4:40 PM

Loopholes are nice, and they can really work to your favor sometimes. I'm glad a murderer didnt get to exploit a loophole.

General crimes should have a sentencing designed to rehabilitate the prisoner.

However if you kill somebody there is no rehab in my eyes. Your suffering should not be shorter than your victims, political correctness and moral fortitude be damned.

Flag Reply +60 rate up
3 replies
daveliq July 23 2014 at 4:55 PM

Get 2 for 1 Send the atty along who wasted all the courts time and money

Flag Reply +53 rate up
4 replies
renner1234 July 23 2014 at 4:17 PM

it's about time.

Flag Reply +45 rate up
mvnup July 23 2014 at 4:49 PM

GOOD

Flag Reply +32 rate up
2 replies
ducklakeman mvnup July 23 2014 at 9:50 PM

no one hates the U.S. Constitution as much as liar obama. He is human excrement.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
6 replies
cmx89 mvnup July 23 2014 at 11:20 PM

He deserved ths slow death he got! in my opinion as to what he did fast would have been too easy glad he suffered some pain. He got what he deserved....

Flag Reply +4 rate up
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