10 State Sanctioned Executions Gone Woefully Wrong
Capital punishment is a very much debated issues and, truth be told, there are a lot of people who believe the death penalty should be abolished. The state laws can dictate precisely how an execution takes place and what kind of criminals can fall under this punishment, but other than that, there are things that can go terribly, terribly wrong when it comes to the way in which the execution proper develops. Here are 10 of the most disastrous criminal executions out there:
10. Tommie J. Smith, Indiana, 1996.
Generally speaking, lethal injections are quite fast to become active in the patient’s body, but Tommie J. Smith had oddly small veins. It took the team at the face of the execution more than 16 minutes to try to find his veins to inject the lethal substance and then they called a physician too. He tried to give Smith an anesthetic and to insert a tube in his neck, but this did not work either so he inserted it into his foot. Finally, after one hour and nine minutes of torment (for everyone there), Tommie J. Smith was pronounced dead.
9. Angel Diaz, Florida 2006.
This is also a lethal injection execution that went very wrong and definitely not according to the plan. Angel Diaz was injected with the toxic substance, but continued to move and grimace for quite some time. A second injection was administered as well, but for the next 34 minutes, Diaz tried to utter words and it was only then when he was finally declared dead. The officials said that Diaz suffered from some sort of liver disease, but later on the autopsy revealed the contrary. Following this execution, Florida’s governor decided to discuss the humanity of the lethal injection.
8. Joseph R. Wood, Arizona 2014.
Florida was not the only state to have a high level issue with lethal injections in general. In fact, in 2014 the efficacy and lack of humanity the lethal injection can show as an execution method were shown to the world once again. Joseph R. Wood was injected with the toxic substance and it took no less than one full hour and another 40 minutes on top of that before he was declared dead. During this time, attempts were made to obtain a halt for the execution, but they failed. According to a journalist who was present at the execution, Wood gasped for no less than 640 times before he finally died.
7. Rommel Broom, Ohio 2009.
In 2009, a similar lethal injection case took place in Ohio. Rommel Broom was convicted for execution and the executioners tried for more than two hours to find a suitable vein to insert the injection – but they failed and Ohio’s governor (Ted Strickland) halted the execution. Broom even tried to help the executioners find a good vein, but even so the efforts were in vein. After halting the execution, several physicians were consulted to see how to inject Rommel Broom with the lethal substance and they found out that the reason behind their inability to find a vein was related to Broom’s history of drug abuse. Rommel Broom was placed back on the death row in 2010.
6. Joseph Cannon, Texas 1998.
As you can see, lethal injections seem to fail a lot of times and there are not few cases of such failures out there. Texas had to witness the woefully wrong execution of Joseph Cannon in 1998. After injecting him the first time, the vein in which the needle was inserted collapsed and the needle popped out. According to the witness’ statements, Cannon said that “it’s come undone”. For the next 15 minutes, the executioners blocked the witness’ view, but then resumed the execution. Cannon made a second statement (according to the witnesses, he was crying) and the execution was successful this time.
5. Robyn Lee Parks, Oklahoma 1992.
Sometimes, executions teach people a lesson and they show them just how wrong things can go when it comes to such things. Normally, journalists are used to the idea that they have the right to intrude into people’s lives, but according to the statements they made after the Robyn Lee Parks execution, they re-thought their approach. The lethal injection was administered and two minutes after that the muscles (jaw, neck and abdomen at the same time) started to have very powerful spasms. The terrifying view continued for the following 11 minutes when, finally, Robyn Parks was declared dead and his torment ended.
4. Derick Lynn Peterson, Virginia 1991.
It is not just lethal injections that can go very wrong when it comes to executions, as Derick Lynn Peterson’s case shows it. Placed on the electric chair, Peterson was administered a first round of shocks and he was inspected by the prison physician (David Barnes). His exact statement was “He has not expired”. Seven minutes later, a second round of shocks was applied – and this time they ended Peterson’s life. Ever since then, the decision of administering two rounds of shocks was followed.
3. Wilbert Lee Evans, Virginia 1990.
Virginia seems to have a history of woeful executions, especially when it comes to electrocution. In 1990, Wilbert Lee Evans was placed on the electric chair. The scene that followed was worthy of a horror movie, as blood burst on the second half of the mask on Evans’ face and sizzling sounds were heard because of the blood that was dripping through his lips. Even more than that, the inmate continued to moan until he was administered with a second shock. According to the autopsy, the blood was the result of a bloody nose Evans experienced after having had his blood pressure elevated by the first round of shocks.
2. Clayton D. Lockett, Oklahoma 2014
Number 2 and number 1 on our list actually compete with each other, but they are equally terrifying in reality because they show too much of our nature. Although there was much debate over the use of a new lethal drug injection in Oklahoma, the governor insisted that Lockett (and later on, Warner, another inmate) would be tested on it. The mere presence of a physician in the execution room already rung for bad news and, as you would expect it, things went awfully wrong. The first injection was a sedative that did not take on Lockett (although the physician thought it did) and the second and third injections (the actual lethal ones) were administered. The inmate struggled for 43 minutes before dying of a heart attack, in terrible pain, clenching his teeth and struggling to get his head off the pillow. Later on, the governor postponed Warner’s execution as well.
1. Allen Lee Davis, Florida 1991.
The scene the witnesses at this execution had to be part of is, again, worthy of a terrifying horror movie. According to them, the electrocution of Allen Lee Davis went so badly that blood started to pour from his mouth unto his chest until the stain reached the size of a plate there. This was the first execution on a new chair in Florida (one that was built precisely for larger people such as Allen Lee Davis). Later on, a senator who witnessed the execution (Ginny Brown-Waite) said that she was scared at first when she saw the blood, but then noticed that the stain had formed the shape of a cross, which she interpreted as a sign from God. Justice Leander Shaw condemned this execution, saying that it looked more like brutal murder than a civilized state’s capital punishment.