An execution team violated state execution policy by injecting Joseph Wood with 15 doses of a lethal drug combination, the inmate’s attorney said.
Wood’s attorney, Dale Baich, said the Department of Corrections’ execution protocol, or policy, allows for a second dose if the inmate is still conscious three minutes after the first dose.
“What they’re saying is he was unconscious and they kept giving him more,” Baich said.
According to the injection log, Wood was given the first dose at 1:52 p.m. on July 23 and was confirmed sedated five minutes later. By 2:30 p.m. Wood had been given his fourth dose and was confirmed sedated on each of his previous injections.
Wood was given his 15th dose three minutes before he was pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m., according to the logs, which were provided to Baich by the department.
A department spokesman did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
The execution has already received worldwide attention because it took nearly two hours for Wood to die, and he appeared to be gasping and snorting most of the time. All other Arizona lethal injection executions have not lasted more than 15 minutes.
Department director Charles Ryan was on the telephone with the assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Zick in the minutes before Wood was declared dead talking about a contingency plan and “proceeding with the execution,” according the logs.
Zick was also on the phone with Judge Neil V. Wake of U.S. District Court in Phoenix at the same time as Wood’s attorneys were trying to stop the execution.
Each dose contained 50 milligrams each of midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a painkiller. Dr. David Waisal, a Harvard University professor and anesthesiologist, said midazolam is generally given in doses of two to four milligrams to patients going under surgery to calm their nerves and make them forget going to surgery.
In a press release Friday afternoon, Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan said his July 24 order to commission an independent review of the execution is underway. The review had been ordered by Gov. Jan Brewer.
Ryan said records of the execution process were released to attorneys for the state and Wood in accordance with standard department procedure.
He said 750 mg each of Midazolam and Hydromorphone were administered to Wood during the execution, which amounts to 15 doses of each drug.