Attorneys for six Death Row prisoners in Arizona filed a lawsuit against state officials on Thursday alleging “human experimentation” in executions.
Inmate Joseph Wood, one of the plaintiffs, asked a federal court to stop his scheduled July 23 execution, protesting the state’s new two-drug protocol.
The 21-page complaint filed in U.S. District Court states the Arizona Department of Corrections plans to use midazolam and hydromorphone for the first time.
Since 2011, Arizona has been using pentobarbital for executions, but the state sent Wood’s attorney a letter in April saying it was using this new combination because it no longer can procure pentobarbital, according to the complaint.
“I really think they’re making it up as they go along,” Dale Baich, Wood’s attorney, said. “This type of review is necessary to ensure they’re complying with constitutional standards.”
The complaint cites the Jan. 16 execution in Ohio of Dennis McGuire that was the first to use this drug combination.
Witnesses to that execution said “McGuire started struggling and gasping loudly for air, making snorting and choking sounds which lasted for at least 10 minutes, with his chest heaving and his fist clenched. Deep, rattling sounds emanated from his mouth,” according to the complaint.
Ohio’s executions are temporarily on hold while a federal court reviews the state’s execution protocol.
The complaint also states that nearly one-third of the executions using midazolam have had problems.
The Arizona attorney general’s office said it is in the process of reviewing the complaint and would not provide further comment.
Wood, 55, was sentenced to death for killing his estranged girlfriend and her father at a Tucson auto-body shop in 1989.
By Maya Srikrishnan
LOS ANGELES TIMES
Saturday June 28, 2014 6:36 AM
The Newhawks Crew
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