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A fence surrounds the state prison in Florence, Ariz., where the execution of Joseph Rudolph Wood took place on July 23. / AP

PHOENIX - It was supposed to take just 50 milligrams each of the drugs midazolam and hydromorphone to kill Arizona death row inmate Joseph Wood.

And according to the Arizona Department of Corrections execution protocol, if the inmate is still conscious after three minutes, the director of the department can authorize a second dose.

But during his execution July 23, Wood was injected with 15 doses over a two hour period before he was finally pronounced dead, according to official logs of the execution that were released Friday.

So instead of 50 milligrams of each drug, Wood was injected with 750 milligrams of each drug in injections that were administered in about three- to 10-minute intervals.

Wood's lawyers say that the number of doses is further proof that the execution was botched. The Department of Corrections says the logs show Woods was sedated throughout the nearly two-hour execution and felt no pain.

The debate over whether Wood's execution was botched has played out in the international media, and called into question whether lethal injection will remain a viable form of capital punishment.

"The records provided today show that Director (Charles) Ryan, continually conferred with the IV team, and directed additional Midazolam and Hydromorphone to be administered ensuring the inmate remained deeply sedated throughout the process, and did not endure pain," according to an official statement issued by the Corrections Department.

Wood's attorney, Dale Baich, called the statement "an acknowledgment that the protocol did not work as designed, and it was a failed experiment."

According to the Department Of Corrections statement, Ryan has initiated an independent review of the execution.

"I am committed to a thorough, transparent and comprehensive review process," he is quoted as saying in the press release. "This will be an authoritative review to ensure that fact-based conclusions are reached regarding every aspect of this procedure, including the length of time it took for the execution to be lawfully completed."

The official release did not say who would conduct the independent review, but stated unequivocally that "the length of the procedure and the amount of drugs administered comply with the department's mandate under state law."

The execution protocol does not specify how long executions should take. Assistant Arizona Attorney General Jeff Zick said that Ryan has "got a legal duty to carry out an execution, but there's no time limit set out for the execution."

Zick said, however, that the review would consider the time question as well as the effectiveness of the protocol.

Baich countered that the department was making foregone conclusions that the execution was not botched.

"This is why an independent investigation by a non-governmental authority is necessary," Baich said.

Wood, 55, was sentenced to death twice for the 1989 murders of his estranged girlfriend, Debra Dietz, and her father, Eugene, in Tucson.

His attorneys had filed motions for injunctions because the Corrections Department would not reveal information about where it obtained its supply of midazolam and hydromorphone or about the executioners' medical qualifications.

Friday's press release also revealed that the execution team included a licensed medical doctor, a detail that the Corrections Department had refused to provide before the execution.

But the major question in the motion for stay of execution was the drug midazolam, which has been part of three other executions since last October in which the dying inmates seemed to gasp for air and take longer to die than with other drugs used in lethal injection. During one execution in Oklahoma in April, the prisoner writhed and agonized before dying of a heart attack.

The Arizona Department of Corrections, however, insisted the drug would work effectively and argued all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court that the execution should go forward without turning over the information the lawyers requested.

But the execution did not go as planned. Instead of the usual 10 minutes or so that it takes for death by lethal injection, Wood took nearly two hours to die and gulped for air with a loud snoring sound for an hour and a half of that time.

The logs released Friday show that on July 23, the IV lines to deliver the drugs into Wood's body were set in his arms by 1:47 p.m. and the drugs were first injected at 1:52.

At 1:57, the "IV team leader verified the inmate is sedated."

The logs released Friday show that the second 50 milligram doses of midazolam and hydromorphone were injected at 2:08.

The next came at 2:13

Then 2:26.

Then 2:34, and so on until they had administered 15 doses.

Woods was finally pronounced dead at 3:49.



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: 2-hour execution required 15 injections, records show

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