Joseph Wood's botched lethal injection joins list of executions gone horribly wrong
Yesterday in Arizona, convicted murderer Joseph Rudolph Wood was executed...very slowly. Wood reportedly gasped for breath for nearly two hours as witnesses watched before finally expiring.
Joseph Rudolph Wood. More photos and a video below.
This is hardly the first botched execution, as is clear from the following roster, first published last year. It highlights nine startling stories assembled by CU Professor Michael Radelet, plus one shocker from Westword's archives. Get the details below.
Note that the text for the following items is culled from Radelet's piece "Examples of Post-Furman Botched Executions," shared by the Death Penalty Information Center, except the final entry, derived from Alan Prendergast's 2012 post "Eddie Ives's botched execution and replacing the noose with the gas chamber." That's followed by more details about what went wrong yesterday.
Frank J. Coppola
August 10, 1982. Virginia. Frank J. Coppola. Electrocution. Although no media representatives witnessed the execution and no details were ever released by the Virginia Department of Corrections, an attorney who was present later stated that it took two 55-second jolts of electricity to kill Coppola. The second jolt produced the odor and sizzling sound of burning flesh, and Coppola's head and leg caught on fire. Smoke filled the death chamber from floor to ceiling with a smoky haze.
Frank James Coppola.
Jimmy Lee Gray
Sept. 2, 1983. Mississippi. Jimmy Lee Gray. Asphyxiation. Officials had to clear the room eight minutes after the gas was released when Gray's desperate gasps for air repulsed witnesses. His attorney, Dennis Balske of Montgomery, Alabama, criticized state officials for clearing the room when the inmate was still alive. Said noted death penalty defense attorney David Bruck, "Jimmy Lee Gray died banging his head against a steel pole in the gas chamber while the reporters counted his moans (eleven, according to the Associated Press)." Later it was revealed that the executioner, Barry Bruce, was drunk.
Jimmy Lee Gray.
Continue for more examples of executions gone horribly wrong.