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Arizona's Execution of Joseph Wood on Hold

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UPDATE 4:13 p.m.: Wood has been executed, although the procedure took nearly two hours. His attorney actually prepared a motion to stop the execution after more than an hour. Read the latest at the end of this post.

The execution of convicted murderer Joseph Wood has been put on hold by the Arizona Supreme Court.

Wood was scheduled to be executed today at 10 a.m., but that didn't happen. The Arizona Supreme Court will consider Wood's case.

See also:
-Death Row Inmate's Execution on Hold as He Tries to Find Details on the Method
-Judge Kozinski: If You Can't Stand the "Splatter," Get Out of the Execution Business

Wood's execution was put on hold earlier this week by a federal appeals court, but the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the stay ahead of the scheduled execution. Wood wanted the state to release detailed information on the drugs that will be used to kill him, as the controversial mixture of drugs haven't been used to execute anyone in Arizona yet.

The state lawsuit -- which is holding up the execution today -- involves a similar complaint about the drugs, and also claims that his previous attorney was ineffective in mounting a mental-health defense in an attempt to avoid his execution.

Wood's death warrant states that it's valid for 24 hours, meaning Wood can still be executed before 10 a.m. Thursday on this warrant. Wood is being executed for the Wood for the 1989 murders of his estranged girlfriend and her father.

Below is a summary of the murders from the Arizona Department of Corrections:

Wood and his 29-year-old ex-girlfriend, Debbie Dietz, had been involved in a turbulent relationship for 5 years, which had been marred by numerous breakups and several domestic violent incidents. Debbie was working at a local body shop owned by her family. On August 7, 1989, Wood walked into the shop and shot Gene Dietz, age 55, in the chest with a .38 caliber revolver, killing him. Gene Dietz's 70-year-old brother was present and tried to stop Wood, but Wood pushed him away and proceeded into another section of the body shop. Wood went up to Debbie, placed her in some type of hold, and shot her once in the abdomen and once in the chest, killing her. Wood then fled the building. Two police officers approached Wood and ordered him to drop his weapon. After Wood placed the weapon on the ground, he reached down and picked it up, and pointed it at the officers. The officers fired, striking Wood several times. Wood was transported to a local hospital where he underwent extensive surgery.

Wood's attorney Dale Baich says, "We are hopeful that the Arizona Supreme Court will give the necessary time and consideration to the constitutional claims raised in Mr. Wood's petition, including review of the experimental combination of drugs to be used in the execution."

UPDATE 11:33 a.m.: The stay has been lifted.

UPDATE 4:10 p.m.: According to the Attorney General's office, Wood's execution started at 1:52 p.m., but he was not declared dead until 3:49 p.m.

His attorney actually prepared a motion during the execution in an attempt to put a stop to it. That motion read, in part:

The Arizona Department of Corrections began the execution of Joseph Rudolph Wood III at 1:52 p.m. At 1:57 p.m ADC reported that Mr. Wood was sedated, but at 2:02 he began to breathe. At 2:03 his mouth moved. Mr. Wood has continued to breathe since that time. He has been gasping and snorting for more than an hour. At 3:02 p.m. At that time, staff rechecked for sedation. He is still alive. This execution has violated Mr. Wood's Eighth Amendment right to be executed in the absence of cruel and unusual punishment.

We respectfully request that this Court stop the execution and require that the Department of Corrections use the lifesaving provisions required in its protocol. See Arizona Department Protocol 710:

Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.

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Follow Matthew Hendley at @MatthewHendley.

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