Intended for healthcare professionals


Two hour death in US execution is likely to lead to legal challenges

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 28 July 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g4861
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. 1Montreal

American states seeking to execute prisoners by lethal injection are likely to face a barrage of legal challenges in the coming months after a convicted murderer, Joseph R Wood III, took nearly two hours to die in an Arizona prison.

In the moments after the first (sedating) drug was introduced to intravenous tubes in Wood’s arms on 23 July, things seemed to be going smoothly, said witnesses. But soon after he had been pronounced unconscious and a deadly dose of hydromorphone added, Wood began gasping and snorting like “a fish on shore gulping for air,” said Troy Hayden, a media witness from KSAZ-TV in Phoenix. “It was tough for everybody in that room,” he added.

Wood was pronounced dead more than 90 …

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