The Arizona First Amendment Coalition has joined the case seeking more information from the state Corrections Department about the nearly two-hour execution of Joseph Rudolph Wood in July.
“We believe that this process should be open to media observation and scrutiny from the beginning to the end,” coalition President Morgan Loew said.
Loew is also a reporter with Phoenix’s CBS affiliate.
Wood’s case has drawn national attention, first when his attorneys with the federal Public Defender’s Office sought to have his execution halted by filing the suit seeking information on the source of the drugs the state planned to use in killing him.
Interest in his case later soared following the execution because it took nearly two hours for him to die by lethal injection, a process that normally takes a few minutes.
Wood was convicted of the 1989 murders of his former girlfriend, Debbie Deitz, and her father, Eugene, in Tucson.
Loew said his organization wants witnesses to see when a condemned inmate enters the death chamber and is strapped to the gurney.
Currently, execution witnesses watch on television monitors as IV lines are set on the prisoner who’s already strapped to the table. The observation window curtains are drawn once lines are set and the execution process begins.
“It’s still about transparency,” said Dale Baich, Wood’s attorney with the federal Public Defender’s Office.
Baich said the plaintiff’s want the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to compel the state to reveal the source of drugs used and the qualifications, but not identities, of the people who carry out executions.
The state tried a mix of drugs to execute Wood, the sedative midazolam and painkiller hydromorphone, that hadn’t been used in the state before. At least 15 doses of the drugs were injected into Wood before he was pronounced dead.