Another drawn-out execution has re-ignited controversy over lethal injections and now the governor of Arizona is calling for a thorough investigation of the matter.
Joseph Woods was convicted of murder and put to death by way of a new two-drug lethal injection Wednesday night.
Some witnesses said the process took nearly two hours as Woods gasped for air and squirmed, until he finally passed away.
“To watch a man lay there for an hour and 40 minutes gulping air, I can liken it to, if you catch a fish and throw it on the shore, the way the fish opens and closes its mouth,” said media witness Troy Hayden.
Arizona officials reported the execution began at 1:57 p.m. at the Arizona State Prison Complex and was pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m.
The Department of Corrections said he was unconscious the entire time.
“It was tough for everybody in that room, at a certain point, you wondered if he was ever going to die,” Hayden said.
Wood, 55, was convicted of murder for the 1989 killings of his estranged girlfriend and her father.
A similar incident in Oklahoma earlier this year raised concerns about the drugs used in lethal injections.
The Associated Press reported that inmate died of a heart attack minutes after prison officials stopped his execution because the drugs weren’t being administered properly.
Other countries are now refusing to export certain drugs, including sodium thiopental, to the U.S. to be used in executions.
Wood’s lawyer said Woods was concerned the Department of Corrections would be experimenting on him.
A federal judge has ordered the medical examiner’s office to preserve physical evidence in the execution and immediately draw blood from his body.