Lawyers complain about inmate’s execution

A condemned Arizona inmate gasped and snorted for more than 90 minutes during his execution Wednesday before he died, his lawyers said, in an episode sure to add to the scrutiny surrounding the death penalty in the United States.

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 in federal court while the execution was underway, demanding that it be stopped. The appeal said Wood was “gasping and snorting for more than an hour.” The lawyers said the execution started at 1:52 p.m., but Wood continued to breathe and was alive an hour and 10 minutes later.

Woods filed several appeals that were denied by the U.S. Supreme Court, including one on the basis that his First Amendment rights were violated when the state refused to reveal details of his execution, such as the supplier of the drugs.

— Associated Press

Battles continue over gay-marriage ban

A federal judge in Denver has declared Colorado’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, but he issued a temporary stay of the ruling until an appeals court hearing next month.

Judge Raymond P. Moore’s ruling Wednesday 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 Attorney General John Suthers (R) and Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) had requested a stay so the issue could eventually be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court — although both agreed that the state ban should be declared unconstitutional.

The couples filed the lawsuit after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver ruled against Utah’s same-sex marriage ban but put the ruling on hold pending an appeal.

— Associated Press

5 face charges linked to terrorist group

Five people, including two women in the United States, were charged Wednesday with funneling money to the al-Qaeda-linked extremist group al-Shabab in Somalia, prosecutors said.

The two U.S. women — Muna Osman Jama, 34, of Reston, Va., and Hinda Osman Dhirane, 44, of Kent, Wash. — were arrested Wednesday and have been charged with 20 counts each of providing material support to a foreign terrorist group, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. The United States designated al-Shabab as a terrorist group in 2008.

Three others overseas have also been charged. One, Farhia Hassan, was arrested Wednesday at her home in the Netherlands. Two others, Fardowsa Jama Mohamed and Barira Hassan Abdullahi, are fugitives in Kenya and Somalia, respectively.

An indictment alleges that, beginning in February 2011, the women sent monthly payments to al-Shabab fighters. The payments were often $100 or so — the largest single payment was $1,500.

— Associated Press

Nazi war-crimes suspect dies

An 89-year-old Nazi war-crimes suspect died in custody hours before a U.S. ruling Wednesday 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 U.S. government 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 longtime home in Philadelphia. He was facing charges of aiding in the killing of 216,000 Jewish men, women and children at a Nazi death camp.

— Associated Press