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Judge to mull bid to postpone Arizona execution

By JACQUES BILLEAUD, AP Published: July 9, 2014
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PHOENIX — A judge is scheduled to consider a request Wednesday to postpone the July 23 execution of an Arizona death row inmate until officials reveal details about the two-drug combination that will be used to put him to death.

Inmate Joseph Rudolph Wood’s lawyers say prison officials violated their client’s constitutional rights by refusing to provide detailed information about his upcoming execution, such as the makers of the drugs and how the state developed its method for lethal injections.

Attorneys for the state say there is no First Amendment right to the information Wood seeks and that the courts have consistently found that prisoners have no rights to such details.

The legal dispute in Arizona is emerging as concerns over the death penalty mount after a botched April 29 execution of an Oklahoma inmate and an incident in January when an Ohio inmate snorted and gasped during the 26 minutes it took him to die.

The Oklahoma inmate writhed on the gurney after he was given a three-drug combination. The execution was stopped after a doctor determined there was a problem with an IV in the inmate’s groin. The Ohio execution was the longest since the state resumed putting inmates to death in 1999.

Arizona prison officials intend on using the same drugs — the sedative midazolam and painkiller hydromorphone — as were used in the Ohio execution. A different drug combination was used in the Oklahoma case.

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