Reporter describes condemned inmate’s prolonged execution

Joseph Wood was executed Wednesday.
Arizona Department of Corrections.Reuters
Joseph Wood was executed Wednesday.

FLORENCE, Ariz. (AP) — An Associated Press reporter who witnessed an Arizona murderer’s execution watched him gasp and snort for more than an hour and a half before he finally took his last breath.

The gasping and snorting began shortly after a sedative and a pain killer were injected into Joseph Rudolph Wood’s veins Wednesday afternoon. He gasped more than 600 times over the next hour and 40 minutes.

An administrator checked on Wood a half dozen times. His breathing slowed down as a deacon said a prayer while holding a rosary. The 55-year-old stopped breathing at 3:37 p.m. and was pronounced dead 12 minutes later.


The AP reporter was one of five media members who watched the execution unfold.

Wood’s lawyers call it a botched execution that should bring new scrutiny to the death penalty in the US.