An execution taking place in Arizona tonight appears to have gone horribly awry. According to a report from the Associated Press, inmate Joseph Rudolph Wood "gasped and snorted" and was still alive more than an hour after the execution began. Wood was not pronounced dead until 3:49PM MT, one hour and 57 minutes after the beginning of the procedure.
Wood's lawyers filed an emergency appeal during the execution, noting that he was "gasping and snorting for more than an hour" but was still alive some 70 minutes after the execution began. The whole process should have taken 10 minutes, Wood's lawyers said.
Wood had been attempting to delay the execution by claiming his First Amendment rights were violated because the state wouldn't release details on what specific drugs he was being injected with. It's becoming more and more common for states to use new combinations of drugs as the time-tested options are currently in short supply in many states.
This botched execution comes seven months after an untested lethal injection drug combination took more than 20 minutes to kill a prisoner in Ohio; reports claimed similar gasping and snorting throughout the process. More recently, a botched execution took place in Oklahoma in late April in which an inmate ended up dying of a heart attack 40 minutes after the procedure began.
The Obama administration quickly denounced it as inhumane, but it isn't a completely new problem — some estimates show that seven percent of all lethal injections are botched in one way or another. There's no word yet on whether Arizona will put a halt on any future executions until it sorts out what went wrong here, as Oklahoma did.