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08th Aug 2022

Killer angered victims’ family with last words in ‘cruel’ botched execution that took almost two hours

Steve Hopkins

Joseph Wood’s told his victims’ family that he ‘takes comfort in knowing my pain stops’

A double murderer smiled and laughed at the family of his victims moments before he was executed in a “cruel” procedure that took nearly two hours and reportedly left him gasping 600 times.

The final moments of Joseph Wood’s life angered the family of his ex-girlfriend, Debra Dietz and her father Eugene Dietz, who he killed in August 1989, gunning them down in their family-owned car body store in Tuscon, Arizona.

Wood was executed in 2014, but details of the case have been re-circulating in recent days because of the horrific nature of it, with the Daily Star dubbing it ‘the world’s worst botched execution’.

It was reported at the time that Wood gasped over 600 times, while his jaw dropped and his chest expanded and contracted during the procedure that was meant to last just 10 minutes.

His “cruel and unusual death” led to executions in Arizona being put on hold, only resuming in May this year.

Wood killed his ex and her dad shortly after she obtained a restraining order against him when she ended their five-year relationship amid alleged domestic violence. Wood was shot by police at the scene, but served 25 years in jail before being executed at Florence State Prison in Arizona.

Before being put to death, Woods reportedly looked at the Dietz family and said: “I take comfort knowing today my pain stops, and I said a prayer that on this or any other day you may find peace in all of your hearts, and may God forgive you all.”

But his final moments were far from final, with the lethal injection failing to work in the 10 minutes it’s supposed to.

Instead, it took one hour 57 minutes for Wood to die, prompting his legal team to request it be stopped.

One of his lawyers, Dale Baich, said at the time that Wood’s passing was “cruel”.

Notes in legal documents from the incident read: “He has been gasping and snorting for more than an hour. He is still alive.”

The State Department of Corrections director Charles Ryan insisted Wood would have felt “no pain” at the end of his life: “Throughout this execution, I conferred and collaborated with our IV team members and was assured unequivocally that the inmate was comatose and never in pain or distress.”

The Dietz family told Sky News at the time that what they saw was incomparable to the pain their family had faced due to his actions.

Jeanne Brown, Debbie’s sister, said: “What I saw today with him being executed, it is nothing compared to what happened on August 7, 1989. “What’s excruciating is seeing your father lying there in a pool of blood, seeing your sister lying in a pool of blood.”

Debbie’s brother-in-law Richard Brown added: “I saw the life go out of my sister-in-law’s eyes.You guys are blowing it all out of proportion about these drugs.

“This man, he conducted a horrifying murder, and you worry about the drug and how it affects him. Why don’t we give him a bullet? Why don’t we give him some Drano? Now my family can rest in peace.”

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