Robert Hungerford, of Phoenix, prays as he and a group of about a dozen death penalty opponents protest the possible execution of Joseph Rudolph Wood at the state prison in Florence, Ariz. on Wednesday, July 23, 2014. Arizona's highest court on Wednesday temporarily halted the execution of the condemned inmate so it could consider a last-minute appeal. The Arizona Supreme Court said it would consider whether he received inadequate legal representation at his sentencing. The appeal also challenges the secrecy of the lethal injection process and the drugs that are used. (AP Photo)
Updated: July 23, 2014 6:33PM
FLORENCE, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona officials say a murderer who was sentenced to death has died nearly two hours after his execution started.
Wood’s lawyers had filed an emergency appeal in federal court during the execution demanding that it be stopped. The appeal said Wood was “gasping and snorting for more than an hour.”
Attorney General Tom Horne’s office says Joseph Rudolph Wood was pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m., one hour and 57 minutes after the execution started.
A message seeking comment was left with the Arizona Department of Corrections.
An Associated Press reporter witnessed the execution but could not immediately communicate with anyone outside the state prison in Florence where the execution took place.
The execution came after the U.S. Supreme Court denied several appeals seeking details about the state’s execution methods.
There have been several controversial executions recently, including that of an Ohio inmate in January who snorted and gasped during the 26 minutes it took him to die.