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Arizona inmate dies 2 hours after execution began

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FILE – This undated file photo provided by the Arizona Department of Corrections shows inmate Joseph Rudolph Wood. The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, July 23, 2014 denied a final, last-ditch appeal from Wood, who is seeking a reprieve from execution. (AP Photo/Arizona Department of Corrections, File)

FILE – This undated file photo provided by the Arizona Department of Corrections shows inmate Joseph Rudolph Wood. The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, July 23, 2014 denied a final, last-ditch appeal from Wood, who is seeking a reprieve from execution. (AP Photo/Arizona Department of Corrections, File)

Arizona Republic justice reporter Michael Kiefer describes what he saw as a witness to the execution of Joseph Rudolph Wood, which took more than an hour and a half at the state prison on Wednesday, July 23, 2014, in Florence, Ariz. Wood was convicted in the 1989 shooting deaths of Debbie Dietz, 29, and Gene Dietz, 55, at an auto repair shop in Tucson. (AP Photo)

Family members of the victims, Jeanne Brown, left, who had a sister and father murdered, speaks during a news conference as her husband Richard Brown listens, after the nearly two hour long execution of Joseph Rudolph Wood at the state prison on Wednesday, July 23, 2014, in Florence, Ariz. (AP Photo)

Robert Hungerford, of Phoenix, prays as he and a group of about a dozen death penalty opponents protest the possible execution of Joseph Rudolph Wood at the state prison in Florence, Ariz. on Wednesday, July 23, 2014. Arizona’s highest court on Wednesday temporarily halted the execution of the condemned inmate so it could consider a last-minute appeal. The Arizona Supreme Court said it would consider whether he received inadequate legal representation at his sentencing. The appeal also challenges the secrecy of the lethal injection process and the drugs that are used. (AP Photo)

John Zemblidge, right, of Phoenix, leads a group of about a dozen death penalty opponents in prayer as the protest the possible execution of Joseph Rudolph Wood at the state prison in Florence, Ariz. on Wednesday, July 23, 2014. Arizona’s highest court on Wednesday temporarily halted the execution of the condemned inmate so it could consider a last-minute appeal. The Arizona Supreme Court said it would consider whether he received inadequate legal representation at his sentencing. The appeal also challenges the secrecy of the lethal injection process and the drugs that are used. (AP Photo)

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PHOENIX (AP) — A condemned Arizona inmate gasped 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 emergency appeals with federal and state courts 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.

An Associated Press reporter who witnessed the execution saw Wood start gasping shortly after a sedative and a pain killer were injected into his veins. He gasped more than 600 times over the next hour and 40 minutes.

An administrator checked on Wood a half dozen times. His breathing slowed as a deacon said a prayer while holding a rosary. The 55-year-old finally stopped breathing and was pronounced dead 12 minutes later.

“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,” said state Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan.

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.”

Family members of Wood’s victims said they had no problems with the way the execution was carried out.

“This man conducted a horrifying murder and you guys are going, ‘let’s worry about the drugs,'” said Richard Brown, the brother-in-law of Debbie Dietz, who was 29 when she was killed in 1989. “Why didn’t they give him a bullet? Why didn’t we give him Drano?”

Wood looked at the family members as he delivered his final words, saying he was thankful for Jesus Christ as his savior. At one point, he smiled at them, which angered the family.

“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,” Wood said.

The case has highlighted scrutiny surrounding lethal injections after two controversial ones. An Ohio inmate executed in January snorted and gasped during the 26 minutes it took him to die. In Oklahoma, an inmate died of a heart attack in April, minutes after prison officials halted his execution because the drugs weren’t being administered properly.

Arizona uses the same drugs — the sedative midazolam and painkiller hydromorphone — that were used in the Ohio execution. A different drug combination was used in the Oklahoma case.

“States have been scrambling over the past many months to find new sources of drugs. They have been experimenting,” said Megan McCracken, of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law’s Death Penalty Clinic. “These procedures are unreliable and the consequences are horrific.”

States have refused to reveal details such as which pharmacies are supplying lethal injection drugs and who is administering them, because of concerns over harassment.

Woods filed several appeals that were denied by the U.S. Supreme Court, including one

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