(FLORENCE, Ariz.) -- A double murderer executed in Arizona on Wednesday was pronounced dead almost two hours after the process began, state Attorney General Tom Horne said.
"The execution of Joseph Wood commenced at 1:57 p.m. at the Arizona State Prison Complex (ASPC)-Florence and he was pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m.," the Attorney General said in a statement.
Wood's attorneys filed a motion for emergency stay of the execution after the inmate was reported, “gasping and snorting for more than an hour,” according to court documents they filed.
"The experiment using midazolam combined with hydromorphone to carry out an execution failed today in Arizona. It took Joseph Wood two hours to die, and he gasped and struggled to breath for about an hour and forty minutes," said Dale Baich, one of Joseph Wood’s attorneys. "We will renew our efforts to get information about the manufacturer of drugs as well as how Arizona came up with the experimental formula of drugs it used today. Arizona appears to have joined several other states who have been responsible for an entirely preventable horror -- a bungled execution.”
Still, Jeanine Brown, a niece of one of Wood's victims, says that's not what she heard as she witnessed the execution.
"I don't believe he was gasping for air," Brown said. "I don't believe he was suffering. Sound to me as though he was snoring."
Wood was convicted February 25, 1991, and sentenced to death July 2, 1991.
The 55-year-old was involved in an unstable five-year relationship with his ex-girlfriend, Debbie Dietz, during the time of the crime. On August 7, 1989, Wood walked into the local body shop owned by her family and shot Debbie’s 55-year-old father, Gene Dietz, in the chest with a .38 caliber revolver, according to a statement from the AG.
He later located Debbie, and shot her once in the abdomen and once in the chest, killing her as well, the document stated.
The ACLU said in a statement that executions should be stopped until it can be proved the drugs used work as intended. "Today the state of Arizona broke the Eighth Amendment, the First Amendment, and the bounds of basic decency. Joseph Wood suffered cruel and unusual punishment when he was apparently left conscious long after the drugs were administered. According to his emergency papers filed by his attorneys, he was choking and snorting over an hour into the process.
"In its rush to put Mr. Wood to death in secret, Arizona ignored the dire and clear warnings from the botched executions of Oklahoma and Ohio. It’s time for Arizona and the other states still using lethal injection to admit that this experiment with unreliable drugs is a failure. Instead of hiding lethal injection under layers of foolish secrecy, these states need to show us where the drugs are come from."
Wood filed several appeals denied by the Supreme Court, including one that claimed his rights were violated by the state's refusal to give details on the drugs that were to be used in the execution.
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(TEL AVIV, Israel) -- The United Nations Human Rights Council voted Wednesday to establish a commission of inquiry into incidents in Gaza, investigating whether any war crimes have been committed in the area.
The United States was the only county to vote against establishing the investigation, while Britain, Germany, and France abstained.
Addressing the U.S. decision, State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said the country had no issue being the sole vote against the commission, adding that the U.S. will continue to stand up for Israel, "even if it means standing alone."
Experts on the Geneva Convention are sounding the alarm on unrest in Gaza, with Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch telling the BBC that both sides in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict may be guilty of war crimes.
"We see very serious violations of the Geneva Convention, the rules designed to spare civilians the hazards of conflict, which apply to both Israel and Hamas," Roth said.
Conflict in the region shows little sign of letting up as the death toll continues to climb. The U.N. says nearly 75 percent of the almost 700 Palestinians killed were civilians. Meanwhile, Israel claims to be targeting militants and accuses Hamas of using innocent people as human shields. Two Israeli civilians and more than 30 soldiers have lost their lives.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the U.N.'s decision a "travesty," adding that it, "should be rejected by decent people everywhere."
Netanyahu claimed that while Hamas is "committing a double war crime" by firing rockets at Israeli civilians, Israel has "gone to unprecedented lengths" to protect Palestinian civilians by dropping leaflets, making phone calls, and sending text messages.
"The HRC should be launching an investigation into Hamas' decision to turn hospitals into military command centers, use schools as weapons depots and place missile batteries next to playgrounds, private homes and mosques," the Prime Minister said.
"By failing to condemn Hamas's systematic use of human shields and by blaming Israel for the deaths that are caused by this grotesque human shields policy, the HRC is sending a message to Hamas and terror organizations everywhere that using civilians as human shields is an effective strategy."
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(ASPEN, Colo.) -- Expect it to be rocky in Aspen.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino is planning on confronting New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie over comments he made earlier in the week about his campaign’s viability against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
On Monday while campaigning in Connecticut for GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley, Christie was asked whether he would hit the campaign trail for Astorino and he answered that he, “will spend time in places where we have a chance to win, I said that right from the beginning.”
“We don’t pay for landslides and we don’t invest in lost causes,” Christie continued. “If the New York race becomes competitive, I’ll consider campaigning in the New York race, but right now, by the public polls, there’s a lot more competitive races like this one in Connecticut.”
Astorino, as well as the New York GOP, were livid. Both he and Christie are now in Aspen, Colorado, for Republican Governors’ Association events and Astorino said he expected to talk to Christie–the RGA chairman–about his comments. Astorino said he planned already to travel to the area, but an aide said he expected the meeting to be a “frank chat.”
In a conference call, Astorino told reporters he had not seen the New Jersey governor yet, but he plans on seeing him this evening at a group dinner, saying it’s, “the first time we will all be together.”
At a press conference Tuesday, Astorino said, “If Gov. Christie is unable to help a Republican candidate for governor, then maybe he should consider stepping down as chairman of the RGA. That’s his job,” according to the New York Daily News.
He said Wednesday he stood by those comments and he does not believe he has burned any bridges with Christie, and instead the Westchester County Executive thinks, “once he and I have a chance to talk about the campaign and I can fill him in on things he may not know and how we are going to win this race then he may change his mind.”
The purpose of Wednesday’s call was in response to a story on the cover of Wednesday’s New York Times, showing Cuomo had interfered with a commission that attempted to root out corruption in state politics.
Astorino said this development will also make the RGA more interested in supporting his candidacy, noting it could “change perceptions on this race.” He wouldn’t name names, but said other governors already have plans to campaign with him in New York.
“His job as the chairman of the RGA is to help get Republican governors re-elected and Republican candidates for governor elected and it would obviously be very convenient for him to come across the river into New York where he is frequently fundraising and to do things for me in New York and I’m sure that’s what’s going to happen,” he said Wednesday.
In the same press conference, Astorino even speculated Cuomo and Christie were scheming over the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal that has engulfed Christie’s administration in New Jersey. He said he doesn’t, “know if there’s a connection between him and Andrew Cuomo on Bridgegate, or if Cuomo has something that he’s holding back, information that could be damaging to the governor.”
“My take is maybe it’s inconvenient to come over the bridge to New York to help a Republican candidate for governor here,” Astorino said. “That’s his call, whether he wants to or not, but as RGA chair he has governors and candidates who have a chance to win … and it’s incumbent upon him to help all of us.”
When asked about it Wednesday, Astorino didn’t go as far, saying, “There’s no secret the Port Authority is represented by the governor of both states and their respective appointees and staff.”
Astorino said he doesn’t feel betrayed and instead he and Christie are “friends," and he's “admired” his work as RGA chairman and as governor of the Garden State.
New York GOP Chairman Ed Cox will also be in Aspen. He too chose not to hold his fire saying in a statement this week that he was “disappointed” to hear Christie’s comments and that the New Jersey Governor, “seems to have forgotten from whence he came,” noting Christie’s “underdog challenge” against Gov. Jon Corzine in 2009.
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