This week, the state of Arizona botched the execution of murderer Joseph Rudolph Wood, who spent nearly two hours "snorting and gasping for air" after he was given a new two-drug combination of lethal medication. Wood was pronounced dead at 3:49 pm, an hour and 57 minutes after his execution began. Wood's attorneys briefly got the Arizona Supreme Court to consider halting the execution by claiming his 1st Amendment rights were violated by the secrecy of drugs used
States have recently begun to refuse revealing details such as the names of the medications used, which pharmacies are supplying the drugs, as well as who is administering them because of concerns over harassment.
The botched Arizona execution, along with two other recently mishandled executions, have renewed the controversy over the use of lethal injections in the U.S.
In January of this year, Dennis McGuire was executed in Lucasville, Ohio by a previously unused mix of medications. According to reporters, the execution of McGuire took more than 20 minutes, with McGuire left gasping for air for 10 to 13 minutes. It was the first use of a new drug combination which was introduced in Ohio after the European Union banned sodium thiopental exports.
In April, Clayton Lockett died of a heart attack during a failed execution attempt at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. Lockett was administered an untested mixture of drugs that had not previously been used for executions in the U.S., and survived for 43 minutes before being pronounced dead. Lockett convulsed and spoke during the process, and attempted to rise from the execution table 14 minutes into the procedure, despite having been declared unconscious. Oklahoma director of corrections, Robert Patton, recommended an indefinite hold on executions in the state as a result.