Arizona botched two-hour execution

This video from the USA says about itself:

24 July 2014

Arizona death row prisoner Joseph Wood was killed almost two hours after he received a lethal drug injection of midazolam and hydromorphone that had only been used once before in an execution in Ohio.

By Gabriel Black in the USA:

Arizona man dies in horrific two-hour execution

24 July 2014

The state of Arizona killed Joseph Wood by lethal injection Wednesday in an execution process that took almost two hours. The botched lethal injection was just one of several that have been carried out in the United States in the past few months.

The execution took place around 1.30 p.m., local-time. After Joseph Wood’s arms were injected with two lines, his veins were filled with a combination of the drugs midazolam and hydromorphone. According to an eyewitness with the Associated Press (AP), a look of pain overtook Wood’s face, and then Wood closed his eyes.

Ten minutes into the execution, roughly the amount of time lethal injections usually take to kill someone, Wood began gasping. Eyewitnesses reported that his jaw suddenly dropped and his chest puffed up. Afterwards he let out a gasp. AP reported: “The gasps repeated every five to 12 seconds. They went on and on, hundreds of times.”

After some time, the executioner turned on the microphone to the observers and informed them that Wood was, in fact, sedated, despite the noises he was making.

Troy Hayden, an eye witness to the execution, told USA Today that the execution was “very disturbing to watch … like a fish on shore gulping for air.” A reporter for the Arizona Republic, Michael Kiefer, said he “counted about 660 times he [Wood] gasped.”

As the execution continued, with the repeated gasping continuing on and on, Wood’s lawyers drew up an emergency appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court asking that the execution be immediately stayed.

In their plea they wrote, “He has been gasping and snorting for more than an hour… He is still alive.” Indicting the state, they concluded: “This execution has violated Mr. Wood’s Eight Amendment right to be executed in the absence of cruel and unusual punishment.”

The legal team drew attention to Arizona State law’s “Contingency Procedure” for executions, which states: “If at any point any team member determines that any part of the execution process is not going according to procedure, they shall advise the IV Team Leader who shall immediately notify the Director. The Director may consult with persons deemed appropriate and will determine to go forward with the procedure, start the procedure over at a later time within the 24-hour day, or stand down.”

The Supreme Court of Arizona held an emergency session by telephone in response to the lawyer’s motion; however, Wood was pronounced dead an hour later, while the court was still discussing the issue.

In April of this year, the state of Oklahoma killed Clayton Lockett in a 43-minute execution process. After being injected with the lethal drugs, Lockett began kicking and grimacing, trying to lift his head off the gurney to which he was strapped. Lockett’s veins exploded during the execution and he eventually died from a massive heart attack.

State execution chambers have been experimenting with drug cocktails after several European nations banned the export of drugs used for capital punishment to the United States. These experiments have led to multiple executions this year, in which the condemned is clearly in profound pain and, or, the killings took multiple times the usual length of ten minutes.

Before Wood was executed, his lawyers demanded that the court provide details regarding the two drugs they were going to use to kill him. His lawyers petitioned the court to stay the execution, which they did temporarily. The lawyers argued that Wood’s death would be both cruel and unusual.

After the execution Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona denounced Wood’s death and called for a halt to future executions in the state. Alessandra Soler, the Arizona ACLU’s Executive Director, stated: “What happened today to Mr. Wood was an experiment that the state did its best to hide.” She said that government officials “cannot be trusted to take seriously our Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.”

Wood was the 26th person to be executed this year in the United States. He was on death row for a double murder he committed in the late 1980s.

See also here.

Joseph Rudolph Wood was put to death by the state of Arizona on Wednesday. The 55-year-old’s execution was the third in the space of six months in which the condemned was subjected to a prolonged, agonizing lethal injection procedure. The previous atrocities occurred in Ohio and Oklahoma. In Wood’s case, the gruesome ordeal spanned nearly two hours: here.

Arizona lawyers lead call for inquiry into Joseph Wood’s two-hour execution: here.

US Tea Party politician praises stoning gays

This video from the USA is called GOP Candidate Scott Esk: Let Cities Decide Whether Gays Should Be Stoned To Death.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Oklahoma Tea Party candidate claims: ‘Stoning gays was a law that came direct from God’

Facebook post quoted biblical verse sanctioning the execution of homosexuals

Tim Walker, Los Angeles

Thursday 12 June 2014

A Tea Party candidate running for office in Oklahoma has appeared to endorse the practice of stoning gay people to death.

Last year, Scott Esk, who is in the race to represent the 91st district in the State House, responded to a friend’s Facebook post about the Pope’s stance on gay people by copying and pasting Bible verses including Leviticus 20:13, which describes homosexuality as “detestable” and demands gay people be “put to death”.

When asked by another Facebook user whether he supported executing homosexuals by stoning, Mr Esk replied: “That goes against some parts of libertarianism, I realise, and I’m largely libertarian, but ignoring as a nation things that are worthy of death is very remiss.”

This week, the Oklahoma magazine Moore Monthly uncovered the posts from 2013, and invited Mr Esk to clarify his position. Stoning gay people, Mr Esk said in a phone interview, was “done in the Old Testament under a law that came directly from God” he said, adding: “And in that time there it was totally just. It came directly from God.

“I have no plans to reinstitute that in Oklahoma law. I do have some very huge moral misgivings about those kinds of sins.”

Mr Esk continued: “I know what was done in the Old Testament and what was done back then was what’s just… And I do stand for Biblical morality.”

While Oklahoma is a largely conservative state, Rob Morris, the publisher of Moore Monthly, said he had never met any other Oklahomans who held views comparable to Mr Esk’s.

“Even people that don’t agree with things like gay marriage… nobody wants the death penalty for gays,” Mr Moore told

Oklahoma introduced a ban on same-sex marriage in 2004. The law was overturned in January 2014 by a federal judge in Tulsa, who declared the ban unconstitutional. His decision was stayed, pending an appeal. Earlier this year one Oklahoma Republican, state Representative Mike Turner, suggested the state do away with all marriages, including heterosexual marriages, saying it was the only way to keep same-sex marriage illegal while also upholding the US Constitution.

Though there is no recent polling readily available on the level of support for same-sex marriage in the state, The Atlantic magazine has estimated, based on existing data that, in 2012, 35 per cent of Oklahomans supported same-sex marriage.

See also here.

Botched death penalty in Ohio, USA

This video from the USA says about itself:

16 Jan 2014

A condemned Ohio inmate appeared to gasp several times and took more than 15 minutes to die Thursday as he was executed with a combination of drugs never before tried in the U.S.

Death row inmate Dennis McGuire made several loud snorting or snoring sounds during one of the longest executions since Ohio resumed capital punishment in 1999.

In attempting to halt his execution with the new method, McGuire’s attorneys had argued last week he was at substantial risk of “agony and terror” while straining to catch his breath as he experienced a medical phenomenon known as air hunger.

By Nick Barrickman in the USA:

Ohio prisoner suffers horrific death in botched execution

17 January 2014

An execution carried out Thursday morning, using an experimental two-drug mixture, resulted in 53-year-old Ohio death row inmate Dennis McGuire writhing in agony for 25 minutes before being pronounced dead.

McGuire’s lawyers last week sought to halt the execution. They argued that the use of an untried lethal combination of drugs could lead to a medical condition known as “air hunger” and cause McGuire to suffer “agony and terror” while struggling to breathe. That is apparently what happened, as the prisoner made loud snorting noises before finally succumbing.

At a January 12 hearing on the new execution procedure, the state’s expert, Dr. Mark Dershwitz, said, “I truly don’t know how many minutes it will take the inmate to stop breathing.” He added, “There is no science to guide me on exactly how long this is going to take.”

In opposing the prisoner’s motion, Assistant Ohio Attorney General Thomas Madden argued that while the US Constitution bans cruel and unusual punishment, “you’re not entitled to a pain-free execution.”

US District Judge Gregory Frost ruled in favor of the state, allowing the execution to go forward as scheduled.

Allen Bohnert, McGuire’s public defender, called the convicted man’s execution a “failed, agonizing experiment,” and added, “The people of the state of Ohio should be appalled at what was done here today in their name.”

McGuire had been on death row for several decades after being found guilty in the 1989 rape and murder of 22-year-old Joy Stewart. The victim was pregnant at the time of the attack. He was recently denied a stay of execution by Republican Governor John Kasich. McGuire’s lawyers argued that the prisoner had been mentally, physically and sexually abused as a child and had impaired brain function.

Authorities suspect that the cause of the botched procedure was the state’s decision to use a two-drug serum consisting of midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a painkiller. The standard three-drug combination of potassium chloride, pancuronium bromide and pentobarbital had been discontinued by the state after drug manufacturers began refusing to provide substances used for executions.

Witnesses said that after the initial dosage was given, no visible motion from McGuire could be noted until, after ten minutes had passed, he began making “several loud snorting or snoring sounds.” He was pronounced dead at 10:53 a.m.

A local reporter said McGuire’s family, present at the procedure, was “crying and visibly upset.” Amber McGuire, the daughter, cried out, “Oh my god,” as her father writhed in his final moments.

Ohio has five more executions scheduled this year, with the next set for February 19.

Nearly all 32 US states that administer the death penalty rely on lethal drug combinations for executions. “In the old three-drug combination, each drug was being used for what it was designed for,” said Dr. Jonathan Groner, a lethal injections expert who teaches clinical surgery at Ohio State University, speaking to the Nation magazine. “Ohio is taking drugs that are normally used for things like a colonoscopy, and they’re giving massive overdoses to kill people. They’re using them for their toxic side effects,” he added.

There are 138 inmates on death row in Ohio. Despite a general decline in the number of people being put to death by authorities across the US, Ohio has increased its use of capital punishment. Its six executions in 2013 and six planned for this year are surpassed only by Texas and Florida.

The first four US executions this year are all employing never-before-tried compounds. Last week in Oklahoma, Michael Lee Wilson was quoted by newspapers as exclaiming, “I feel my whole body burning,” as he was administered the fatal mixture that ended his life.

Republican Senator Bruce Burns of Wyoming in a comment to the press this week said he would propose legislation to re-introduce firing squads as a means of execution.

Fueling these fascistic sentiments is an effort by states to find cheaper ways of administering lethal drugs to prisoners. Many states have turned to using federally unregulated compounding pharmacies to mix their concoctions. Ohio had reportedly purchased its drugs from one such vendor.

The proper response to the atrocity committed Thursday in Ohio is to criminally prosecute and convict all of the state officials responsible for McGuire’s execution, and to impeach and prosecute the federal judge who denied the prisoner’s motion for a stay of execution.

The family of a death row inmate is planning a lawsuit against the state of Ohio following his botched execution. Dennis McGuire was put to death using an untested combination of medical drugs that appeared to cause him prolonged distress, in violation of the US Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment: here.

Dennis McGuire, 53, was put to death on Thursday, January 16, in the execution chamber at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio. News of McGuire’s execution—and details of the gruesome manner in which authorities carried out his death sentence—have evoked disgust and revulsion in the US and internationally: here.

“Oklahoma prison officials halted an inmate’s execution on Tuesday after a new drug combination left the man writhing and clenching his teeth on the gurney, before he later died of a heart attack. Clayton Lockett, 38, was declared unconscious 10 minutes after the first of the state’s new three-drug lethal injection combination was administered. Three minutes later, though, he began breathing heavily, writhing, clenching his teeth and straining to lift his head off the pillow.” A local reporter on the scene tweeted about the horrorific proceedings. CNN has some facts about the state of the death penalty, which is gradually declining in the U.S. The debate over capital punishment has been reignited. And Vox documents how botched executions have been around for a long, long time. [AP]

Oklahoma death row prisoner Charles Warner’s execution was postponed at the last minute yesterday evening after fellow prisoner Clayton Lockett’s execution was botched: here.

Oklahoma execution: Clayton Lockett was tasered by guards before lethal injection: here.

An injection of chemicals used to execute death row inmates can cause such excruciating pain that veterinarians are banned from using them to put down animals, according to one of the most thorough reviews ever undertaken of the administration of the death penalty: here.

US state of Oklahoma botches execution carried out using untested cocktail of drugs: here.

In the face of numerous manufacturers’ refusal to produce drugs used in executions, many US states, in efforts to continue the grisly ordeal of capital punishment, have begun relying on chemicals formulated in unregulated compounding facilities: here.

Texas executes Mexican national in defiance of international law: here.

“More than 4 percent of inmates sentenced to death in the United States are probably innocent, according to a study published Monday that sent shock waves across the anti-death penalty community. What the researchers call a ‘conservative estimate’ about the number of wrongfully convicted death row inmates is more than double the percentage of capital defendants who were exonerated during more than three decades that were studied.” Here’s a short graphic on the history of the death penalty in the United States, as well as a graphic breakdown of the death penalty around the world. The Economist also maps out the death penalty broken down by state. [HuffPost].

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Stop Ugandan gay death penalty law


Dear friends,

David Kato

In hours, Uganda could pass a law that could impose the death penalty or life imprisonment for homosexuality. An international outcry shelved this bill last year — we urgently need to ramp up the pressure to press President Museveni to stand up for human rights and stop this brutal law. Sign below, and tell everyone:

The Ugandan Parliament is set to pass a brutal law that may carry the death penalty for homosexuality. If they do, thousands of Ugandans could face execution or life imprisonment — just for being gay.

We’ve helped stop this bill before, and we can do it again. After a massive global outcry last year, Ugandan President Museveni blocked the bill’s progress. But political unrest is mounting in Uganda, and religious extremists in Parliament are hoping confusion and violence in the streets will distract the international community from a second push to pass this hate-filled law. We can show them that the world is still watching.

We have no time to lose. Let’s get one million voices against Uganda’s horrific anti-gay law in the next 24 hours — we’ll deliver it to Uganda’s leaders and key countries. Click here to take action, then forward this email to everyone:

Being gay in Uganda is already dangerous and terrifying. LGBT Ugandans are regularly harassed and beaten, and just last year gay rights activist David Kato (pictured above) was brutally murdered in his own home. Now they are threatened by this draconian law which could impose life imprisonment for people convicted of same-sex relations, and the death penalty for “serial offenders”. Even NGOs working to prevent the spread of HIV can be imprisoned for “promoting homosexuality” under this hate-filled law.

Right now, Uganda is in political turmoil — missing millions of aid money has embroiled the Parliament in scandal. This upheaval has provided religious extremists in Parliament the perfect chance to slip in the shelved anti-gay bill, calling it a “Christmas gift” to Ugandans.

President Museveni backed away from this bill before, after international pressure threatened Uganda’s support. Let’s build a million strong petition to stop the horrific anti-gay law again, and save lives. We only have hours — sign below, then tell friends and family:

Last time, our international petition condemning the gay death penalty law was delivered to Parliament – spurring a global news story and enough pressure to block the bill for months. When a tabloid newspaper published 100 names, pictures and addresses, of suspected gays and those identified were threatened, Avaaz supported a legal case against the paper and we won! Together we have stood up, time and time again, for Uganda’s gay community — now they need us more than ever.

With hope and determination,

Emma, Iain, Alice, Luis, Ricken, Joseph, Michelle and the whole Avaaz team


Kadaga wants anti-gay Bill tabled (Daily Monitor)

Ugandan Parliament to debate anti-gay bill (AFP)

Order paper Tuesday 20th November 2012 (Parliament of Uganda)

Pulling Out All the Stops to Push an Antigay Bill (New York Times)

Texas death penalty for mentally disabled

This video from the USA is called Mentally Disabled Man Executed in TEXAS – System Failure?

The barbarity of the death penalty was on display last night as the state of Texas executed the second mentally disabled death row prisoner in less than three weeks: here.

AT least 38 people still on death row in The Gambia are at imminent risk of execution following official confirmation that nine other death row inmates were put to death last week: here.

Drop the charges against Gambian journalists: here.

GAMBIAN President Yahya Jammeh’s conditional moratorium on executions of death row prisoners leaves at least 38 people at great risk of execution, Amnesty International said today: here.

Executions in the USA

This video from the USA is called Mentally Disabled Man Executed in TEXAS – System Failure?

By Kate Randall:

Seven US executions scheduled in next 10 days

12 November 2008

Over the next 10 days, seven death row inmates are scheduled to be executed in the United States. Five of these condemned men are in Texas, a state that has carried out 15 of the 31 executions in the US so far this year.

Barring a last-minute reprieve, George Whitaker III will die by lethal injection at 6 p.m. Wednesday evening at the Texas execution chamber in Huntsville, north of Houston. The next day, prisoner Denard Manns is set to be put to death.

Three more Texas executions are planned for next week: Eric Cathey on Tuesday, November 18; Rogelio Cannady on Wednesday, November 19; and Robert Hudson on Thursday, November 20.

Two executions are scheduled in other states: Gregory L. Bryant-Bey in Ohio, and Marco Allen Chapman in Kentucky. Chapman would be the first person put to death in Kentucky in 10 years.

The US Supreme Court on Monday ordered a federal trial court to consider the case of Troy Davis, a prisoner on death row in George for the 1989 murder of off-duty police officer Mark MacPhail in Savannah, Georgia. The ruling came on a habeas corpus petition filed directly with the Supreme Court on Davis’s behalf: here.

How many innocents executed in the USA? Here.

Afghanistan under watch over increasing executions: here.

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki has announced that the country’s 4,000 death-row inmates will have their sentences commuted to life imprisonment, describing their wait to face execution as “undue mental anguish and suffering”.

Europeans Press the US to End the Death Penalty: here.

Russia’s Constitutional Court effectively outlawed the death penalty when it declared that a moratorium on capital punishment would remain in force until the nation fully bans executions.

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Death penalty in the USA: botched lethal injections

Lethal injection, cartoon

By Kate Randall:

Following botched Florida lethal injection

Executions on hold in two US states

18 December 2006

On Friday, executions by lethal injection were suspended in Florida following a botched execution, and a federal judge in California ruled that the state must overhaul its death penalty methods, in effect halting executions there.

These developments have focused increased scrutiny on the gruesome lethal injection procedure, which is the method of choice in 37 US states.

In the Florida case, it took 34 minutes and a rare second injection of deadly chemicals for prison authorities to execute Angel Nieves Diaz on December 13.

Death usually occurs within 15 minutes, and the individual is unconscious and motionless within 3 to 5 minutes.

In Nieves Diaz’s case, witnesses reported seeing him moving as long as 24 minutes after the initial injection, including grimacing, blinking, licking his lips, blowing and attempting to mouth words.

As lethal injection is currently practiced, the prisoner is given a deadly cocktail of three poisons: one to deaden pain, the second to induce paralysis and the third to stop the heart.

A study published last year in the British medical journal the Lancet, however, concluded that the first drug, sodium pentothal, can wear off before the inmate loses consciousness, subjecting the condemned individual to excruciating pain before the third drug, potassium chloride, causes a heart attack.

The medical examiner who performed an autopsy on Nieves Diaz following his execution, Dr. William F. Hamilton, said that it appeared that the lethal-injection needles punctured through both of his veins, sending the poisons into the small tissues of the arm, dispersing them.

“It really sounds like he was tortured to death,” commented Jonathan Groner, associate professor of surgery at the Ohio State Medical School and a death-penalty opponent, to the Associated Press.

“My impression is that it would cause an extreme amount of pain.”

Because medical professionals overwhelmingly refuse to participate in the lethal injection procedure on ethical grounds, the intravenous needles are for the most part put in place by prison personnel.

While in a hospital setting the average success rate in inserting an IV is about 1 in 6, when the difficult procedure is attempted by prison staffers trained solely for execution, the results can be disastrous, as proved in Nieves Diaz’s case.

See also here.

Exclusion of Jews and Blacks from California death penalty juries: here.

US states with most death penalties had most lynchings in the past: here.

Lynching: here.

Lethal injection drug blocked by judge. Compounding pharmacy called the Apothecary Shoppe told not to supply Missouri government with unofficial pentobarbital mix: here.

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