Arizona AG’s Office Got Inmate’s Name Wrong In Announcing Botched Execution

AP

A short time after Arizona inmate Joseph R. Wood III was executed on Wednesday in what reportedly was a gruesome two-hour ordeal, the state attorney general’s office there sent out an email announcing the death.

There was a problem with the announcement, though: It had Wood’s name wrong.

News outlets, including TPM, received the announcement at 3:56 p.m. Arizona time, just seven minutes after Wood was pronounced dead. The first paragraph of the announcement was this:

PHOENIX, AZ (Wednesday, July 23, 2014) – After several days of legal maneuvering, Attorney General Tom Horne is announcing the execution of 55-year-old, Robert G. Jones, ADC #086279. The execution commenced at 1:52 p.m. at the Arizona State Prison Complex (ASPC)-Florence. He was pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m.

The name that appeared in that paragraph, Robert G. Jones, was that of an inmate who was put to death by Arizona on Oct. 23, 2013.

A short time later, at 4:16 p.m. local time, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office sent out a corrected announcement with the name highlighted:

PHOENIX, AZ (Wednesday, July 23, 2014) – After several days of legal maneuvering, Attorney General Tom Horne is announcing the execution of 55-year-old, Joseph R.Wood III, ADC #086279. The execution commenced at 1:52 p.m. at the Arizona State Prison Complex (ASPC)-Florence. He was pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m.

Wood was reportedly “gasping and snorting for more than an hour” after the start of the execution, prompting the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona to call afterward for an immediate suspension of executions in the state.

One journalist who witnessed the death, the Arizona Republic’s Michael Kiefer, said he counted “about 660 times” that Woods gasped while receiving the lethal injection.

This post has been updated.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nick Martin is an associate editor at TPM in New York City. He came to the site in 2011 as a reporter for TPMMuckraker. Previously, he worked in Arizona, first as a staff reporter for a local newspaper and later as a freelance journalist. He also ran the news blog Heat City. Contact him at nick@talkingpointsmemo.com

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