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Arizona Changes Lethal Drug Mix for Executions

by Ed Lyon

In recent years more and more pharmaceutical companies are refusing to sell execution drugs to states over ethical considerations fueled by increasing public opposition to capital punishment. Arizona is allegedly experimenting with other drugs to replace those that major United States and European suppliers will no longer sell to death-penalty states.

During Arizona's state-sponsored murder of Joseph Woods in 2014, it took 15 doses of an unapproved drug cocktail before Woods finally died after a two-hour-long ordeal.

During this time, witnesses reported watching Woods gasping for air “like a fish on shore gulping for air.” Woods's attorney sought a federal judge's intervention during this torture-murder while Arizona officials lied to the judge during that ad hoc telephonic hearing.

Settling out of court in a 42 USC § 1983 action, Arizona agreed to no longer use midazolam, a sedative similar to diazepam in its deadly cocktails and agreed to allow witnesses to view other aspects of executions to include actually watching the executioner intravenously administer the deadly drugs.

See: First Amendment Coalition of Arizona, et al., v. Ryan, et al., U.S.D.C., (D. AZ), Case No. 2:14-cv-01447-NVW. Additional source:

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Related legal case

First Amendment Coalition of Arizona, et al., v. Ryan, et al.