PHOENIX – A condemned Arizona inmate gasped and snorted for more than an hour and a half during his execution Wednesday before he died in an episode sure to add to the scrutiny surrounding the death penalty in the U.S.
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne’s office said Joseph Rudolph Wood was pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m., one hour and 57 minutes after the execution started.
Wood’s lawyers had filed an emergency appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court while the execution was underway, demanding that it be stopped. The appeal said Wood was gasping and snorting for more than an hour.
Gov. Jan Brewer said later that she’s ordering a full review of the state’s execution process, saying she’s concerned by how long it took for the administered drug protocol to kill Wood.
Defense lawyer Dale Baich called it a botched execution that should have taken 10 minutes.
Arizona appears to have joined several other states who have been responsible for an entirely preventable horror – a bungled execution, Baich said. The public should hold its officials responsible and demand to make this process more transparent.
Colorado gay marriage ban tossed; ruling on hold
A federal judge in Denver declared Colorado’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional Wednesday, but he put the ruling on hold to give the state until next month to seek an appeal.
Judge Raymond P. Moore’s ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed July 1 by six gay couples who asked the court for an injunction ordering that the state’s ban no longer be enforced.
Colorado Republican Attorney General John Suthers and Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper had requested a stay so the issue could eventually be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court – though both agreed the state ban should be declared unconstitutional.
The couples filed the lawsuit after the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled against Utah’s gay marriage ban but put the decision on hold pending an appeal.
Arkansas Air Force base locked down over report
Military officials locked down an Arkansas Air Force base for several hours Wednesday after reporting that a suspicious individual was on the sprawling complex near Little Rock, then reopened the base and said the threat was no longer credible.
During the lockdown, no one was allowed to enter or leave the base. Gates were closed and a line of vehicles stretched for a quarter-mile outside of the base, which takes up just a bit more than 9 square miles.
Senator blames plagiarism of thesis in part on PTSD
Sen. John Walsh of Montana said Wednesday his failure to attribute conclusions and verbatim passages lifted from other scholars’ work in his thesis to earn a master’s degree from the U.S. Army War College was an unintentional mistake caused in part by post-traumatic stress disorder.
The apparent plagiarism first reported by the New York Times was the second potentially damaging issue raised this year involving the Democrat’s 33-year military career, which has been a cornerstone of his campaign to keep the seat he was appointed to in February when Max Baucus resigned to become U.S. ambassador to China.
National Democrats said Wednesday they remained 100 percent behind Sen. Walsh in his campaign against Republican Rep. Steve Daines.
Nazi war crimes suspect dies as extradition OK’d
An 89-year-old Nazi war crimes suspect died in custody hours before a U.S. ruling that he should be extradited to Germany to face trial.
Johann Breyer died Tuesday night at a Philadelphia hospital, where he had been transferred Saturday after a month in jail, his lawyer and the U.S. Marshals Service said. His death was disclosed Wednesday just as U.S. Magistrate Timothy Rice approved the extradition request, which would still have needed final federal review.
Rice found probable cause that Breyer was the person being sought by German authorities over his suspected service as an SS guard at Auschwitz during World War II.
U.S. marshals arrested Breyer in June outside his Philadelphia home. He was facing charges of aiding in the killing of 216,000 Jewish men, women and children at a Nazi death camp.