FLORENCE, ARIZONA - Arizona now joins the list of so-called botched executions with the two-hour ordeal of Joseph Rudolph Wood III. Wood was put to death for the murder of his estranged girlfriend and father in a body shop in Tucson, Arizona.
The Arizona ACLU issued a statement calling for a moratorium on executions until it can be proved that the murders die more peaceful than their victims.
The events surrounding Mr. Wood’s execution clearly signal that Arizona must put a moratorium on executions. Until state officials can convince the public and the people we plan to put to death that the process will be transparent and in compliance with the Eighth Amendment, the death penalty must be put on hold. What happened today to Mr. Wood was an experiment that the state did its best to hide. Now we see that our government officials cannot be trusted to take seriously our Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Arizona had clear warnings from Ohio and Oklahoma. Instead of ensuring that a similar outcome was avoided here, our state officials cloaked the plans for Mr. Wood’s death in secrecy. Arizonans should not accept our state’s willingness to abandon one of our most fundamental constitutional obligations.
Unconcerned with complying with the Eighth Amendment, Joseph Wood carried out the double-execution in August 1989 of Debbie Dietz and her father Gene at their family-run car body shop in Tuscon, Arizona. It is not widely reported thus unknown exactly how long Debbie and Gene may have suffered in actual pain.
Governor Jan Brewer issued a statement expressing concern about the time it took for the Wood execution to complete.
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. While justice was carried out today, I directed the Department of Corrections to conduct a full review of the process.
One thing is certain, however, inmate Wood died in a lawful manner and by eyewitness and medical accounts he did not suffer. 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 The Arizona Star, surviving victim Jeanne Brown said.
You don’t know what excruciating is. Excruciating is seeing your dad lying in a pool of blood.
Her husband, Richard, stated that Wood got the punishment that he deserved.
According to the article, Wood at one point smiled at the family which angered them. In his final statement he said that he was thankful for Jesus Christ as his savior. He is quoted as saying:
I take comfort knowing today my pain stops, and I said a prayer that on this or any other day you may find peace in all of your hearts and may God forgive you all.
Charles Ryan, the Director of the Arizona Department of Corrections, issued a statement indicating that the media and ACLU characterization of the execution is misleading. He stated that execution protocol was followed by the Department of Corrections and was “…monitored by an IV team of licensed medical professionals.”
Once the inmate was sedated, other than sonorous respiration, or snoring, he did not grimace or make any further movement. Throughout this execution, I conferred and collaborated with our IV team members and was assured unequivocally that the inmate was comatose and never in pain or distress.
Ryan noted that physiologically the time to complete an execution varies with each individual. The Pima County Medical Examiner will conduct a full autopsy and toxicology study.
The concern over lethal injection is not new in Arizona. In 2011, Daniel Wayne Cook received a stay of execution from the Supreme Court over the use of the knockout drug sodium thiopental. Cook raped, tortured and murdered Carlos Cruz Ramos, 26, and Kevin Swaney, 16 in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. The rape and torture of Ramos took some six-hours. It included cigarette burns and repeated beating and rape. He was executed in August of 2012 with no apparent complications.
The controversy today apparently stems from the use of a new concoction of drugs which is apparently kept a secret from the public.