The Arizona Department of Corrections began the execution of Joseph Rudolph Wood III at 1:52 p.m. At 1:57 p.m ADC reported that Mr. Wood was sedated, but at 2:02 he began to breathe. At 2:03 his mouth moved. Mr. Wood has continued to breathe since that time. He has been gasping and snorting for more than an hour. At 3:02 p.m. At that time, staff rechecked for sedation. He is still alive. This execution has violated Mr. Wood's Eighth Amendment right to be executed in the absence of cruel and unusual punishment.The conclusion does not follow from the premises. The motion does not dispute the ADC's conclusion that Wood is sedated. If he is sedated, he is not in pain, and nothing happening here remotely qualifies as "cruel." Gasping and snorting do not necessarily mean a person is in pain, and if he is sedated he certainly is not.
When states were able to use the single-drug protocol with pentobarbital, the executions went smoothly. The problem here has been caused by those who pressured the suppliers to stop supplying pentobarbital, and any response should be directed at reopening that supply line.
Update: AP reports the Arizona AG says the execution is completed, though it took about 2 hours.
The anti-death-penalty crowd is already throwing around their favorite word, "botched." Wrong. Joseph Wood died, as he should have, and he was sedated, not suffering extreme pain or, for that matter, any pain. That is not "botched."