Arizona officials say execution was carried out properly

The Arizona Department of Corrections released initial information on Thursday about the prolonged execution of Joseph R. Wood III, stating that initial medical evidence showed that the execution was carried out properly.

Charles Ryan, director of the department, did not offer any information regarding why the execution of Wood took nearly two hours on Wednesday.

The execution prompted outrage and raised concerns that there was another botched execution, coming just two months after the bungled lethal injection of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma. Lockett was grimacing and clenching his teeth before the execution was called off, witnesses said, and he died a short time later. An independent autopsy pointed to problems with the IV placement, rather than the drugs used.

In a statement, Ryan pushed back against media reports that called the execution “botched.”

“This is pure conjecture because there is no medical or forensic evidence to date that supports that conclusion,” he said. “In fact, the evidence gathered thus far supports the opposite.”

Ryan said that an autopsy performed by the Pima County Medical Examiner on Thursday morning reported that the IVs were “perfectly placed,” according to the medical examiner. The catheters were fully placed in the veins in each arm and there was no leakage, he said.

As he did in the wake of the execution, Ryan said again that Wood was checked multiple times during the execution and remained unconscious.

An independent autopsy of Lockett after the Oklahoma botch showed that the IVs were only placed after several failed attempts. Oklahoma’s official timeline noted that Lockett’s vein had collapsed, causing the drugs to either leak out or get absorbed into the tissue (either way, the drugs were not delivered as intended).

Ryan said that a review of the Arizona execution ordered Gov. Jan Brewer (R) is ongoing. In addition, Ryan said that the state’s attorney general would not seek any execution orders while the review is occurring.

An attorney for Wood has called for an independent investigation.

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.

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Mark Berman · July 24, 2014