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Thursday, July 24, 2014,AP News in Brief at 5:58 a.m. EDT

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Posted: Jul 24, 2014 4:00 AM

Updated: Jul 24, 2014 4:01 AM

Arizona murderer gasps for more than 1 1/2 hours in death chamber before dying

PHOENIX (AP) A condemned murderer took nearly two hours to die and gasped for about 90 minutes during an execution in Arizona that quickly rekindled the national debate on capital punishment in the U.S.

The execution of 55-year-old Joseph Rudolph Wood took so long that his lawyers had time to file an emergency appeal while it was ongoing. The Arizona Supreme Court also called an impromptu hearing on the matter and learned of his death during the discussions.

"He has been gasping and snorting for more than an hour," Wood's lawyers wrote in a legal filing demanding that the courts stop it. "He is still alive."

It is the third prolonged execution this year in the U.S., including one in Ohio in which an inmate gasped in similar fashion for nearly a half-hour. An Oklahoma inmate died of a heart attack in April, minutes after prison officials halted his execution because the drugs weren't being administered properly.

Gov. Jan Brewer said later that she's ordering a full review of the state's execution process, saying she's concerned by how long it took for the administered drug protocol to kill Wood.

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AP reporter's account of Arizona execution that took nearly 2 hours to complete

FLORENCE, Ariz. (AP) Joseph Rudolph Wood looked around the death chamber and glanced at the doctors as they made preparations for his execution, locating the proper veins and inserting two lines into his arms.

Wood then uttered his final words, smiled at the victim's family members and made eye contact with a deacon. Just after declaring that he was at peace with his death, he smiled at the deacon, but for a second, a subtle look of panic took over his face.

Officials administered the lethal drugs at 1:52 p.m. Wood's eyes closed.

About 10 minutes later, the gasping began.

Wood's jaw dropped, his chest expanded, and he let out a gasp. The gasps repeated every five to 12 seconds. They went on and on, hundreds of times. An administrator checked on him a half-dozen times. He could be heard snoring loudly when an administrator turned on a microphone to inform the gallery that Wood was still sedated, despite the audible sounds.

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10 Things to Know for Today

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:

1. ARIZONA INMATE DIES 2 HOURS AFTER START OF EXECUTION

The condemned man gasps and snorts as the lethal injection used adds to the scrutiny of the death penalty in the U.S.

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Gaza fighting rages as US, others push for cease-fire

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) Israeli tanks and warplanes bombarded the Gaza Strip on Thursday, as Hamas militants stuck to their demand for the lifting of an Israeli and Egyptian blockade amid U.S. efforts to reach a cease-fire.

The 16-day conflict has claimed the lives of 718 Palestinians, most of them civilians, Palestinian health officials say. Israel has lost 32 soldiers, all since July 17, when it widened its air campaign into a full-scale ground operation aimed at halting rocket fire from Gaza and destroying a sophisticated network of cross-border tunnels.

Two Israeli civilians and a Thai worker in Israel have also been killed.

Appearing with visiting British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made no reference to the cease-fire efforts in underscoring his determination to neutralize the rocket and tunnel threats.

More than 2,000 rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza since July 8, and the Israeli military says it has uncovered more than 30 tunnels leading from Gaza to Israel, some of which have been used by Hamas to carry out attacks.

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Iraqi officials: 60 killed in attack on prisoner convoy ahead of vote for president

BAGHDAD (AP) Gunmen attacked a prisoner convoy north of Baghdad on Thursday, setting off a gunbattle with troops in which 52 prisoners and eight soldiers were killed, officials said.

The attack came as Iraq's parliament was set to elect a president, part of a troubled political transition that has seen repeated delays despite the lightning advance of Sunni militants across much of northern and western Iraq last month.

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon arrived in Baghdad earlier Thursday to encourage lawmakers to form a more inclusive government that can address the crisis.

The dawn attack began with militants firing mortar rounds on Iraqi army bases in the town of Taji, where suspects were being held on terrorism charges, prompting officials to evacuate the facilities, fearing a jailbreak.

As the convoy traveled through a remote area, roadside bombs went off and militants opened fire. The ensuing battle left 52 prisoners and eight soldiers dead, with another eight soldiers and seven prisoners wounded, they added. It was not immediately clear if the prisoners were killed by soldiers or militants, or if the extremist Islamic State group was involved.

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Planes carrying remains from Malaysian Airlines disaster heads to the Netherlands

KHARKIV, Ukraine (AP) A Dutch military aircraft carrying remains of victims from the Malaysian plane disaster departed for the Netherlands Thursday and a second prepared to go, while Australia's government dispatched 50 police officers to London to prepare to join a proposed U.N. team to secure the scattered wreckage.

All 298 people aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 most of them Dutch citizens were killed when the plane was shot down on July 17. Wreckage of the Boeing 777 fell on territory controlled by pro-Russian separatists, and U.S. officials say the plane was probably shot down by a missile, most likely by accident.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who says he fears some remains will never be recovered unless security is tightened, has proposed a multinational force mounted by countries such as Australia, the Netherlands and Malaysia that lost citizens in the disaster.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was traveling with her Dutch counterpart Frans Timmermans to Kiev to seek a memorandum of understanding with the Ukraine government to allow international police to secure the area where the wreckage fell, Abbott said.

Details including which countries would contribute and whether officers would be armed and protected by international troops were yet to be agreed, Abbott said.

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Taiwan airline points to typhoon weather as cause of plane crash that killed 48, injured 15

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) Stormy weather trailing behind a typhoon was the likely cause of a plane crash on a Taiwanese island that killed 48 people on board and injured 10 on the plane and five on the ground, the airline said Thursday.

The ATR-72 operated by Taiwan's TransAsia Airways was carrying 58 passengers and crew when it crashed while trying to land in the Penghu island chain in the Taiwan Strait between Taiwan and China late Wednesday. The plane was flying from the city of Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan.

The victims included 46 Taiwanese and two French medical students who were interns in Taiwan.

The crash came hours after Typhoon Matmo passed over Taiwan. About 200 airline flights at Taiwanese airports had been canceled earlier in the day due to rain and high winds. Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau had warned of heavy rains Wednesday evening even after Matmo moved west into China.

"According to what we can understand so far, this was due to weather, the influence of the typhoon," a TransAsia representative, Phoebe Lu, told The Associated Press. She said the carrier was waiting for Taiwanese authorities to complete an investigation to get confirmation.

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Official Algerian news agency says Air Algerie plane disappears from radar

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) An Air Algerie flight from Burkina Faso to Algiers has disappeared from radar on a flight from Burkina Faso to Algiers, the official Algerian news agency said Thursday.

Air navigation services lost track of the plane 50 minutes after takeoff early Thursday, last sited at 0155 GMT, the agency said.

"In keeping with procedures, Air Algerie has launched its emergency plan," the agency quoted the airline as saying.

The flight path of Flight AH5017 from Ouagadougou, the capital of the west African nation of Burkina Faso, to Algiers was not immediately clear.

Ougadougou is in a nearly straight line south of Algiers, passing over Mali where unrest continues in the north.

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$300 million later, Social Security trying to salvage computer system that doesn't work

WASHINGTON (AP) After spending nearly $300 million on a new computer system to handle disability claims, the Social Security Administration still can't get it to work. And officials can't say when it will.

Six years ago, Social Security embarked on an aggressive plan to replace outdated computer systems overwhelmed by a growing flood of disability claims. But the project has been racked by delays and mismanagement, according to an internal report commissioned by the agency.

Today, the project is still in the testing phase, and the agency can't say when it will be operational or how much it will cost.

In the meantime, people filing for disability claims face long delays at nearly every step of the process delays that were supposed to be reduced by the new processing system.

"The program has invested $288 million over six years, delivered limited functionality, and faced schedule delays as well as increasing stakeholder concerns," said a report by McKinsey and Co., a management consulting firm.

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Long odds for justice in Malaysia jet disaster, experts say

GENEVA (AP) Anyone hoping to bring to justice whoever downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 must face sobering facts.

The wreckage scene is compromised, key evidence may have disappeared altogether and political complexities could block an international court from hearing the case.

If Russian nationals were involved in the disaster that claimed 298 lives, they could prove untouchable: The Russian constitution forbids extradition of its citizens.

And, as legal heir to the Soviet Union, Russia has never paid a ruble in compensation to families of the 269 people killed in the 1983 shoot-down of a Korean airliner by the Soviet Air Force.

What's more, as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, Russia has the right to veto any attempt by the United States or another member of that body to bring a case before the International Criminal Court. There are other avenues to get there, but they are fraught with problems.

Topics: World Briefly

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