PHOENIX (KSAZ) - Lethal injection executions typically take 5-15 minutes. But the drugs the state used to use are no longer available because pharmaceutical companies refused to sell them for executions.
Arizona tried a new method yesterday, and it took considerably longer than 15 minutes to kill Joseph Wood.
Dale Baich was Joseph Wood's attorney; he was in the death chamber for Wood's execution.
"This was the most brutal lethal injection I have witnessed," said Baich.
Baich said he watched Wood gasp for air for nearly two hours before dying. It followed a similar execution that did not go as planned with the same two-chemical cocktail in Ohio.
"Well, I think what needs to happen is we need to put a hold on executions and there needs to be an independent investigation of what happened yesterday and the lethal injection protocol in Arizona, in general," he said.
Governor Brewer's office is saying little, but did say; "as the Governor awaits the full review that she ordered, there is no additional comment from her at this time."
Loved ones of the victims spoke out minutes after Wood was pronounced dead.
"He didn't yell out, "don't do that," and boom you're dead. He didn't yell that once. He smiled and laughed at us then went to sleep. So all you people who think these drugs are bad, well, the hell with you," said Richard Brown.
The Arizona Department of Corrections broke its silence on Thursday afternoon.
"Media reports made before information was released, reached an erroneous conclusion that the execution was botched. This is pure conjecture because there is no medical or forensic evidence which supports that conclusion," said DOC Director Charles Ryan.
The director also said that the Arizona Attorney General's office will not seek any execution warrants until a full review of the execution of Joseph Wood is completed.
FULL STATEMENT FROM AZ DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS:
“Immediately upon completion of the execution of inmate Wood, Governor Brewer directed me to conduct a full review of the execution and the protocol. This protocol is on the department website at azcorrections.gov. Accordingly, I ordered that all evidence connected to the execution procedure be collected and preserved for review and investigation. This occurred prior to any court order to do so, and that review is already underway.
Media reports, some of which were made prior to any information officially being released on the day of the execution, reached the premature and erroneous conclusion that this execution was ‘botched’. This is pure conjecture because there is no medical or forensic evidence to date that supports that conclusion.
In fact, the evidence gathered thus far supports the opposite. The IV team, which includes a licensed medical doctor, verified multiple times during the procedure that the inmate was comatose and never in pain. The record clearly shows the inmate was fully and deeply sedated beginning at 1:57 PM – three minutes after the administration of the execution drugs – until he was declared deceased at 3:49 PM.
Additionally, the physical autopsy from the Pima County Medical Examiner was completed this morning. The Medical Examiner reported to the department that in regards to the placement of the IVs, they were ‘perfectly placed’. He further explained to the department that the catheters in each arm were completely within the veins and there was no leakage of any kind, and that anything that was put through the IVs went into the veins. The department is also awaiting the results of the Medical Examiner’s toxicology report.
Pursuant to the Governor’s instruction, I am committed to a thorough, transparent and comprehensive review process. We will ensure all the facts are gathered and that fact-based conclusions are reached regarding the length of time it took for the execution to be lawfully completed. I have also been advised by the Arizona Attorney General that his office will not seek any warrants of execution prior to the completion of the review of this matter.”