Executions

Botched Executions

"With each development in the technology of execution, the same promises have been made, that each new technology was safe, reliable, effective and humane. Those claims have not generally been fulfilled." -Austin Sarat

It is estimated that 3% of U.S. executions in the period from 1890 to 2010 were botched. In the 2014 book, Gruesome Spectacles: Botched Executions and America’s Death Penalty, Austin Sarat, a professor of jurisprudence and political science at Amherst College, describes the history of flawed executions in the U.S. during that period. Sarat reports that over those 120 years, 8,776 people were executed and 276 of those executions (3.15%) went wrong in some way. Lethal injection had the highest rate of botched executions. In his book, he defines a botched execution as follows:

Botched executions occur when there is a breakdown in, or departure from, the “protocol” for a particular method of execution. The protocol can be established by the norms, expectations, and advertised virtues of each method or by the government’s officially adopted execution guidelines. Botched executions are “those involving unanticipated problems or delays that caused, at least arguably, unnecessary agony for the prisoner or that reflect gross incompetence of the executioner.” Examples of such problems include, among other things, inmates catching fire while being electrocuted, being strangled during hangings (instead of having their necks broken), and being administered the wrong dosages of specific drugs for lethal injections.
Method Total Executions Botched Executions Botched Execution Rate
Hanging 2,721 85 3.12%
Electrocution 4,374 84 1.92%
Lethal Gas 593 32 5.4%
Lethal Injection 1,054 75 7.12%
Firing Squad 34 0 0%
All Methods 8,776 276 3.15%

Source: Austin Sarat, “Gruesome Spectacles: Botched Executions and America’s Death Penalty” (Stanford Univ. Press 2014).


A report in the Salt Lake City Tribune takes a different view of the suggestion that there have been no botched executions by firing squad since 1890. The paper reports that in September 1951, a Utah firing squad shot Eliseo J. Mares in the hip and abdomen and that it was “several minutes” before he was declared dead. Utah’s May 16, 1879 firing-squad execution of Wallace Wilkerson also was botched. See Botched Executions in American History.

Examples of Post-Furman Botched Executions

Entry 28021

NOTE: The below is not intended to be a comprehensive catalogue of botched executions, but simply a listing of examples that are well-known. There are 61 executions or attempted executions listed: 2 by asphyxiation, 10 by electrocution, and 49 by lethal injection, including six failed executions that were halted when execution personnel were unable to set an IV line. By “botched” I mean as those involving unanticipated problems or delays that caused at least arguably, unnecessary agony for the prisoner or that reflect gross incompetence of the executioner” (Borg & Radelet, 2004:144). For more information on how I define “botch” and other methodological decisions, see Marian J. Borg & Michael L. Radelet, On Botched Executions, pp. 143-68 in Peter Hodgkinson and William Schabas (eds.), CAPITAL PUNISHMENT: STRATEGIES FOR ABOLITION. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2004).

1. August 10, 1982. Virginia. Frank J. Coppola. Electrocution. Although no media representatives witnessed the execution and no details were ever released by the Virginia Department of Corrections, an attorney who was present later stated that it took two 55-second jolts of electricity to kill Coppola. The second jolt produced the odor and sizzling sound of burning flesh, and Coppola’s head and leg caught on fire. Smoke filled the death chamber from floor to ceiling with a smoky haze.[1]

2. April 22, 1983. Alabama. John Evans. Electrocution. After the first jolt of electricity, sparks and flames erupted from the electrode attached to Evans’s leg. The electrode burst from the strap holding it in place and caught on fire. Smoke and sparks also came out from under the hood in the vicinity of Evans’s left temple. Two physicians entered the chamber and found a heartbeat. The electrode was reattached to his leg, and another jolt of electricity was applied. This resulted in more smoke and burning flesh. Again the doctors found a heartbeat. Ignoring the pleas of Evans’s lawyer, a third jolt of electricity was applied. The execution took 14 minutes and left Evans’s body charred and smoldering.[2]

3. September 2, 1983. Mississippi. Jimmy Lee Gray. Asphyxiation. Officials had to clear the room eight minutes after the gas was released when Gray’s desperate gasps for air repulsed witnesses. His attorney, Dennis Balske of Montgomery, Alabama, criticized state officials for clearing the room when the inmate was still alive. Said noted death penalty defense attorney David Bruck, “Jimmy Lee Gray died banging his head against a steel pole in the gas chamber while the reporters counted his moans (eleven, according to the Associated Press).”[3] Later it was revealed that the executioner, Barry Bruce, was drunk.[4]

4. December 12, 1984. Georgia. Alpha Otis Stephens. Electrocution. “The first charge of electricity … failed to kill him, and he struggled to breathe for eight minutes before a second charge carried out his death sentence.”[5] After the first two-minute power surge, there was a six-minute pause so his body could cool before physicians could examine him (and declare that another jolt was needed). During that six-minute interval, Stephens took 23 breaths. A Georgia prison official said, “Stephens was just not a conductor” of electricity.[6]

5. March 13, 1985. Texas. Stephen Peter Morin. Lethal Injection. The Associated Press reported that, because of Morin’s history of drug abuse, the execution technicians were forced to probe both of Morin’s arms and one of his legs with needles for nearly 45 minutes before they found a suitable vein.[7]

6. October 16, 1985. Indiana. William E. Vandiver. Electrocution. After the first administration of 2,300 volts, Vandiver was still breathing. The execution eventually took 17 minutes and five jolts of electricity.[8] Vandiver’s attorney, Herbert Shaps, witnessed the execution and observed smoke and the smell of burning. He called the execution “outrageous.” The Department of Corrections admitted the execution “did not go according to plan.”[9]

7. August 20, 1986. Texas. Randy Woolls. Lethal Injection. A drug addict, Woolls helped the execution technicians find a useable vein for the execution.[10]

8. June 24, 1987. Texas. Elliot Rod Johnson. Lethal Injection. Because of collapsed veins, it took nearly an hour to complete the execution.[11]

9. December 13, 1988. Texas. Raymond Landry. Lethal Injection. Pronounced dead 40 minutes after being strapped to the execution gurney and 24 minutes after the drugs first started flowing into his arms.[12] Two minutes after the drugs were administered, the syringe came out of Landry’s vein, spraying the deadly chemicals across the room toward witnesses. The curtain separating the witnesses from the inmate was then pulled, and not reopened for fourteen minutes while the execution team reinserted the catheter into the vein. Witnesses reported “at least one groan.” A spokesman for the Texas Department of Correction, Charles Brown (sic), said, “There was something of a delay in the execution because of what officials called a ‘blowout.’ The syringe came out of the vein, and the warden ordered the (execution) team to reinsert the catheter into the vein.”[13]

10. May 24, 1989. Texas. Stephen McCoy. Lethal Injection. He had such a violent physical reaction to the drugs (heaving chest, gasping, choking, back arching off the gurney, etc.) that one of the witnesses (male) fainted, crashing into and knocking over another witness. Houston attorney Karen Zellars, who represented McCoy and witnessed the execution, thought the fainting would catalyze a chain reaction. The Texas Attorney General admitted the inmate “seemed to have had a somewhat stronger reaction,” adding, “The drugs might have been administered in a heavier dose or more rapidly.”[14]

11. July 14, 1989. Alabama. Horace Franklin Dunkins, Jr. Electrocution. It took two jolts of electricity, nine minutes apart, to complete the execution. After the first jolt failed to kill the prisoner (who was mildly retarded), the captain of the prison guard opened the door to the witness room and stated “I believe we’ve got the jacks on wrong.”[15] Because the cables had been connected improperly, it was impossible to dispense sufficient current to cause death. The cables were reconnected before a second jolt was administered. Death was pronounced 19 minutes after the first electric charge. At a post-execution news conference, Alabama Prison Commissioner Morris Thigpen said, “I regret very very much what happened. [The cause] was human error.”[16]

12. May 4, 1990. Florida. Jesse Joseph Tafero. Electrocution. During the execution, six-inch flames erupted from Tafero’s head, and three jolts of power were required to stop his breathing. State officials claimed that the botched execution was caused by “inadvertent human error” — the inappropriate substitution of a synthetic sponge for a natural sponge that had been used in previous executions.[17] They attempted to support this theory by sticking a part of a synthetic sponge into a “common household toaster” and observing that it smoldered and caught fire.[18]

13. September 12, 1990. Illinois. Charles Walker. Lethal Injection. Because of equipment failure and human error, Walker suffered excruciating pain during his execution. According to Gary Sutterfield, an engineer from the Missouri State Prison who was retained by the State of Illinois to assist with Walker’s execution, a kink in the plastic tubing going into Walker’s arm stopped the deadly chemicals from reaching Walker. In addition, the intravenous needle was inserted pointing at Walker’s fingers instead of his heart, prolonging the execution.[19]

14. October 17, 1990. Virginia. Wilbert Lee Evans. Electrocution. When Evans was hit with the first burst of electricity, blood spewed from the right side of the mask on Evans’s face, drenching Evans’s shirt with blood and causing a sizzling sound as blood dripped from his lips. Evans continued to moan before a second jolt of electricity was applied. The autopsy concluded that Evans suffered a bloody nose after the voltage surge elevated his high blood pressure.[20]

15. August 22, 1991. Virginia. Derick Lynn Peterson. Electrocution. After the first cycle of electricity was applied, and again four minutes later, prison physician David Barnes inspected Peterson’s neck and checked him with a stethoscope, announcing each time “He has not expired.” Seven and one-half minutes after the first attempt to kill the inmate, a second cycle of electricity was applied. Prison officials later announced that in the future they would routinely administer two cycles before checking for a heartbeat.[21]

16. January 24, 1992. Arkansas. Rickey Ray Rector. Lethal Injection. It took medical staff more than 50 minutes to find a suitable vein in Rector’s arm. Witnesses were kept behind a drawn curtain and not permitted to view this scene, but reported hearing Rector’s eight loud moans throughout the process. During the ordeal Rector (who suffered from serious brain damage) helped the medical personnel find a vein. The administrator of State’s Department of Corrections medical programs said (paraphrased by a newspaper reporter) “the moans did come as a team of two medical people that had grown to five worked on both sides of his body to find a vein.” The administrator said “That may have contributed to his occasional outbursts.” The difficulty in finding a suitable vein was later attributed to Rector’s bulk and his regular use of antipsychotic medication.[22]

17. April 6, 1992. Arizona. Donald Eugene Harding. Asphyxiation. Death was not pronounced until 10 1/2 minutes after the cyanide tablets were dropped.[23] During the execution, Harding thrashed and struggled violently against the restraining straps. A television journalist who witnessed the execution, Cameron Harper, said that Harding’s spasms and jerks lasted 6 minutes and 37 seconds. “Obviously, this man was suffering. This was a violent death … an ugly event. We put animals to death more humanely.”[24] Another witness, newspaper reporter Carla McClain, said, “Harding’s death was extremely violent. He was in great pain. I heard him gasp and moan. I saw his body turn from red to purple.”[25] One reporter who witnessed the execution suffered from insomnia and assorted illnesses for several weeks; two others were “walking vegetables” for several days.[26]

18. March 10, 1992. Oklahoma. Robyn Lee Parks. Lethal Injection. Parks had a violent reaction to the drugs used in the lethal injection. Two minutes after the drugs were dispensed, the muscles in his jaw, neck, and abdomen began to react spasmodically for approximately 45 seconds. Parks continued to gasp and violently gag until death came, some eleven minutes after the drugs were first administered. Tulsa World reporter Wayne Greene wrote that the execution looked “painful,” “scary and ugly.” “It was overwhelming, stunning, disturbing — an intrusion into a moment so personal that reporters, taught for years that intrusion is their business, had trouble looking each other in the eyes after it was over.”[27]

19. April 23, 1992. Texas. Billy Wayne White. Lethal Injection. White was pronounced dead some 47 minutes after being strapped to the execution gurney. The delay was caused by difficulty finding a vein; White had a long history of heroin abuse. During the execution, White attempted to assist the authorities in finding a suitable vein.[28]

20. May 7, 1992. Texas. Justin Lee May. Lethal Injection. May had an unusually violent reaction to the lethal drugs. According to one reporter who witnessed the execution, May “gasped, coughed and reared against his heavy leather restraints, coughing once again before his body froze.”[29] Associated Press reporter Michael Graczyk wrote, “Compared to other recent executions in Texas, May’s reaction to the drugs was more violent. He went into a coughing spasm, groaned and gasped, lifted his head from the death chamber gurney and would have arched his back if he had not been belted down. After he stopped breathing, his eyes and mouth remained open.”[30]

21. May 10, 1994. Illinois. John Wayne Gacy. Lethal Injection. After the execution began, the lethal chemicals unexpectedly solidified, clogging the IV tube that led into Gacy’s arm, and prohibiting any further passage. Blinds covering the window through which witnesses observed the execution were drawn, and the execution team replaced the clogged tube with a new one. Ten minutes later, the blinds were then reopened and the execution process resumed. It took 18 minutes to complete.[31] Anesthesiologists blamed the problem on the inexperience of prison officials who were conducting the execution, saying that proper procedures taught in “IV 101” would have prevented the error.[32]

22. May 3, 1995. Missouri. Emmitt Foster. Lethal Injection. Seven minutes after the lethal chemicals began to flow into Foster’s arm, the execution was halted when the chemicals stopped circulating. With Foster gasping and convulsing, the blinds were drawn so the witnesses could not view the scene. Death was pronounced thirty minutes after the execution began, and three minutes later the blinds were reopened so the witnesses could view the corpse.[33] According to William “Mal” Gum, the Washington County Coroner who pronounced death, the problem was caused by the tightness of the leather straps that bound Foster to the execution gurney; it was so tight that the flow of chemicals into the veins was restricted. Foster did not die until several minutes after a prison worker finally loosened the straps. The coroner entered the death chamber twenty minutes after the execution began, diagnosed the problem, and told the officials to loosen the strap so the execution could proceed.[34] In an editorial, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch called the execution “a particularly sordid chapter in Missouri’s capital punishment experience.”[35]

23. January 23, 1996. Virginia. Richard Townes, Jr. Lethal Injection. This execution was delayed for 22 minutes while medical personnel struggled to find a vein large enough for the needle. After unsuccessful attempts to insert the needle through the arms, the needle was finally inserted through the top of Mr. Townes’s right foot.[36]

24. July 18, 1996. Indiana. Tommie J. Smith. Lethal Injection. Because of unusually small veins, it took one hour and nine minutes for Smith to be pronounced dead after the execution team began sticking needles into his body. For sixteen minutes, the execution team failed to find adequate veins, and then a physician was called.[37] Smith was given a local anesthetic and the physician twice attempted to insert the tube in Smith’s neck. When that failed, an angio-catheter was inserted in Smith’s foot. Only then were witnesses permitted to view the process. The lethal drugs were finally injected into Smith 49 minutes after the first attempts, and it took another 20 minutes before death was pronounced.[38]

25. March 25, 1997. Florida. Pedro Medina. Electrocution. A crown of foot-high flames shot from the headpiece during the execution, filling the execution chamber with a stench of thick smoke and gagging the two dozen official witnesses. An official then threw a switch to manually cut off the power and prematurely end the two-minute cycle of 2,000 volts. Medina’s chest continued to heave until the flames stopped and death came.[39] After the execution, prison officials blamed the fire on a corroded copper screen in the headpiece of the electric chair, but two experts hired by the governor later concluded that the fire was caused by the improper application of a sponge (designed to conduct electricity) to Medina’s head.

26. May 8, 1997. Oklahoma. Scott Dawn Carpenter. Lethal Injection. Carpenter was pronounced dead some 11 minutes after the lethal injection was administered. As the drugs took effect, Carpenter began to gasp and shake. “This was followed by a guttural sound, multiple spasms and gasping for air” until his body stopped moving, three minutes later.[40]

27. June 13, 1997. South Carolina. Michael Eugene Elkins. Lethal Injection. Because Elkins’s body had become swollen from liver and spleen problems, it took nearly an hour to find a suitable vein for the insertion of the catheter. Elkins tried to assist the executioners, asking “Should I lean my head down a little bit?” as they probed for a vein. After numerous failures, a usable vein was finally found in Elkins’s neck.[41]

28. April 23, 1998. Texas. Joseph Cannon. Lethal Injection. It took two attempts to complete the execution. After making his final statement, the execution process began. A vein in Cannon’s arm collapsed and the needle popped out. Seeing this, Cannon lay back, closed his eyes, and exclaimed to the witnesses, “It’s come undone.” Officials then pulled a curtain to block the view of the witnesses, reopening it fifteen minutes later when a weeping Cannon made a second final statement and the execution process resumed.[42]

29. August 26, 1998. Texas. Genaro Ruiz Camacho. Lethal Injection. The execution was delayed approximately two hours due, in part, to problems finding suitable veins in Camacho’s arms.[43]

30. October 5, 1998. Nevada. Roderick Abeyta. Lethal Injection. It took 25 minutes for the execution team to find a vein suitable for the lethal injection.[44]

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58. November 16, 2022. Stephen Barbee. Texas. Lethal Injection. Mr. Barbee’s disabled arms were unable to be straightened out so the needle with the deadly drugs could be properly inserted. Earlier Mr. Barbee’s attorney had filed motions to stop the execution because these problems were foreseeable. His death was finally pronounced approximately 90 minutes after he was strapped in the gurney.[92]

59. November 16, 2022. Arizona. Murray Hooper. Lethal Injection. “For the third time since resuming the death penalty this year, the Arizona Department of Corrections struggled to insert the intravenous needles that deliver lethal drugs during an execution. … Witnesses … reported seeing execution team members attempt and fail to insert IVs into both of Hooper’s arms before finally resorting to inserting a catheter into Hooper’s femoral vein near his groin.” [93]

60. November 17, 2022. Kenneth Eugene Smith. Alabama. Lethal Injection (failed). The execution began just after 10:00 pm, but was called off at 11:21 when prison officials determined that they did not have enough time to set a second IV line before the death warrant expired at midnight. Mr. Smith’s attorneys reported that he had been strapped to the gurney at 8:00 and was not removed until four hours later. They claimed that after two hours, “an IV team entered the execution chamber and began repeatedly jabbing Mr. Smith’s arms and hands with needles, well past the point at which the executioners should have known that it was not reasonably possible to access a vein.”[94] The Alabama Prisons Commissioner said “the people attempting to carry out the execution had tried to insert a line into ‘several locations’ without success.” Earlier on the day of the execution, an appeals court halted so his attorneys could argue that Alabama’s execution procedures could lead Mr. Smith to suffer an illegally “cruel” death. Nonetheless, the U.S. Supreme Court (with three dissenting votes) overturned that decision and ordered the execution to go forward. At trial, Mr. Smith’s jury voted 11-1 in favor of a life sentence rather than the death penalty, but the trial judge rejected this recommendation and instead imposed a death sentence.[95]

Five days after the botched (attempted) execution, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey halted all executions in the state and ordered a “top-to-bottom review” of the state’s execution procedures, although the investigation appears to be far from an objective review conducted by neutral parties. Said the governor, “I don’t buy for a second the narrative being pushed by activists that these issues are the fault of the folks at Corrections or anyone in law enforcement, for that matter. I believe that legal tactics and criminals hijacking the system are at play here.”[96]

61. February 28, 2024. Thomas Creech. Idaho. Lethal Injection (failed). The execution team tried and failed eight times to insert a functional IV, trying to insert the catheter in his “arms, legs, hands and feet.” After 58 minutes of failures, the warden finally halted the execution and Creech was returned to his cell. Said attorneys from the Idaho Federal Defender Services, “This is what happens when unknown individuals with unknown training are assigned to carry out an execution.”[97]

Sources

ENDNOTES

[1]. Deborah W. Denno, Is Electrocution an Unconstitutional Method of Execution? The Engineering of Death over the Century, 35 WILLIAM & MARY L. REV. 551, 664 – 665 (1994).

[2]. For a descrip­tion of the exe­cu­tion by Evans’s defense attor­ney, see Russell F. Canan, Burning at the Wire: The Execution of John Evans, in FACING THE DEATH PENALTY: ESSAYS ONCRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT 60 (Michael L. Radelet ed. 1989); see also Glass v. Louisiana, 471 U.S. 1080, 1091 – 92 (1985).

[3]. David Bruck, Decisions of Death, THE NEW REPUBLIC, Dec. 12, 1984, at 24 – 25.

[4]. Ivan Solotaroff, The Last Face You’ll Ever See, 124 ESQUIRE 90, 95 (Aug. 1995).

[5]. Two Charges Needed to Electrocute Georgia Murderer, N.Y. TIMES, Dec. 13, 1984, at 12.

[6]. Editorial, N.Y. TIMES, Dec. 17, 1984, at 22.

[7]. Murderer of Three Women is Executed in Texas, N.Y. TIMES, March 14, 1985, at 9.

[8]. Killer’s Electrocution Takes 17 Minutes in Indiana Chair, WASH. POST, Oct. 17, 1985, at A16.

[9]. Indiana Executes Inmate Who Slew Father-In-Law, N.Y. TIMES, Oct. 17, 1985, at 22.

[10]. Killer Lends A Hand to Find A Vein for Execution, L.A. TIMES, Aug. 20, 1986, at 2.

[11]. Addict Is Executed in Texas For Slaying of 2 in Robbery, N.Y. TIMES, June 25, 1987, at A24.

[12]. Drawn-out Execution Dismays Texas Inmates, DALLAS MORNING NEWS, Dec. 15, 1988, at 29A.

[13]. Landry Executed for 82 Robbery-Slaying, DALLAS MORNING NEWS, Dec. 13, 1988, at 29A.

[14]. Witness to an Execution, HOUS. CHRON., May 27, 1989, at 11.

[15]. John Archibald, On Second Try, Dunkins Executed for Murder, BIRMINGHAM NEWS, July 14, 1989, at 1.

[16]. Peter Applebome, 2 Jolts in Alabama Execution, N.Y. TIMES, July 15, 1989, at 6.

[17]. Cynthia Barnett, Tafero Meets Grisly Fate in Chair, GAINESVILLE SUN, May 5, 1990, at 1; Cynthia Barnett, A Sterile Scene Turns Grotesque, GAINESVILLE SUN, May 5, 1990, at 1; Bruce Ritchie, Flames, Smoke Mar Execution of Murderer, FLORIDA TIMES-UNION (Jacksonville), May 5, 1990, at 1; Bruce Ritchie, Report on Flawed Execution Cites Human Error, FLORIDA TIMES-UNION (Jacksonville), May 9, 1990, at B1.

[18]. Bill Moss, Chair Concerns Put Deaths on Hold, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, July 18, 1990, at 1B.

[19]. Niles Group Questions Execution Procedure, UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL, Nov. 8, 1992 (LEXIS/​NEXUS file).

[20]. Mike Allen, Groups Seek Probe of Electrocution’s Unusual Events, RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, Oct. 19, 1990, at B1; Mike Allen, Minister Says Execution Was Unusual, RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, Oct. 20, 1990, at B1; DeNeen L. Brown, Execution Probe Sought, WASH. POST, Oct. 21, 1990, at D1.

[21]. Karen Haywood, Two Jolts Needed to Complete Execution, THE FREE-LANCE STAR (Fredericksburg, Vir.), Aug. 23, 1991, at 1; Death Penalty Opponents Angry About Latest Execution, RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, Aug. 24, 1991, at 1; Virginia Alters its Procedure for Executions in Electric Chair, WASH. POST, Aug. 24, 1991, at B3.

[22]. Joe Farmer, Rector, 40, Executed for Officer’s Slaying, ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE, Jan. 25, 1992, at 1; Joe Farmer, Rector’s Time Came, Painfully Late, ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT GAZETTE, Jan. 26, 1992, at 1B; Sonja Clinesmith, Moans Pierced Silence During Wait, ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT GAZETTE, Jan. 26, 1992, at 1B; Marshall Frady, Death in Arkansas, THE NEW YORKER, Feb. 22, 1993, at 105.

[23]. Gruesome Death in Gas Chamber Pushes Arizona Toward Injections, N.Y. TIMES, Apr. 25, 1992, at 9.

[24]. Charles L. Howe, Arizona Killer Dies in Gas Chamber, S.F. CHRON., Apr. 7, 1992, at A2.

[25]. Id.

[26]. Abraham Kwok, Injection: The No-Fuss Executioner, ARIZONA REPUBLIC, Feb. 28, 1993, at 1.

[27]. Wayne Greene, 11-Minute Execution Seemingly Took Forever, TULSA WORLD, Mar. 11, 1992, at A13.

[28]. Another U.S. Execution Amid Criticism Abroad, N.Y. TIMES, Apr. 24, 1992, at B7.

[29]. Robert Wernsman, Convicted Killer May Dies, ITEM (Huntsville, Tex.), May 7, 1992, at 1.

[30]. Michael Graczyk, Convicted Killer Gets Lethal Injection, HERALD (Denison, Tex.), May 81992.

[31]. Scott Fornek and Alex Rodriguez, Gacy Lawyers Blast Method: Lethal Injections Under Fire After Equipment Malfunction, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, May 11, 1994, at 5; Rich Chapman, Witnesses Describe Killer’s Macabre’ Final Few Minutes, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, May 11, 1994, at 5.

[32]. Rob Karwath & Susan Kuczka, Gacy Execution Delay Blamed on Clogged IV Tube, CHICAGO TRIB., May 11, 1994, at 1 (Metro Lake Section).

[33]. Because they could not observe the entire exe­cu­tion pro­ce­dure through the closed blinds, two wit­ness­es lat­er refused to sign the stan­dard affi­davit that stat­ed they had wit­nessed the exe­cu­tion. Witnesses to a Botched Execution, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, May 8, 1995, at 6B.

[34]. Tim O’Neil, Too-Tight Strap Hampered Execution, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, May 5, 1995, at B1; Jim Slater, Execution Procedure Questioned, KANSAS CITY STAR, May 4, 1995, at C8.

[35]. Witnesses to a Botched Execution, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, May 8, 1995, at 6B.

[36]. Store Clerk’s Killer Executed in Virginia, N.Y. TIMES, Jan. 25, 1996, at A19.

[37]. The involve­ment of this anony­mous physi­cian vio­lat­ed rules of both the American Medical Association and the Indiana State Medical Association. Sherri Edwards & Suzanne McBride, Doctor’s Aid in Injection Violated Ethics Rule: Physician Helped Insert the Lethal Tube in a Breach of AMA’s Policy Forbidding Active Role in Execution, INDIANAPOLIS STAR, July 19, 1996, at A1.

[38]. Id.; Suzanne McBride, Problem With Vein Delays Execution, INDIANAPOLIS NEWS, July 18, 1996, at 1.

[39]. Doug Martin, Flames Erupt from Killer’s Headpiece, GAINESVILLE SUN, March 26, 1997, at 1. Medina was exe­cut­ed despite a life-long his­to­ry of men­tal ill­ness, and the Florida Supreme Court split 4 – 3 on whether to grant an evi­den­tiary hear­ing because of seri­ous ques­tions about his guilt. This puts to rest any con­ceiv­able argu­ment that Medina could have been guilty beyond a rea­son­able doubt.” Medina v. State, 690 So.2d 1241 (1997). The fam­i­ly of the vic­tim had joined in a plea for exec­u­tive clemen­cy, in part because they believed Medina was inno­cent. Id., at 1252, n. 6. Even the Pope appealed for clemen­cy. Martin, op. cit.

[40]. Michael Overall & Michael Smith, 22-Year-Old Killer Gets Early Execution, TULSA WORLD, May 8, 1997, at A1.

[41]. Killer Helps Officials Find A Vein At His Execution, CHATTANOOGA FREE PRESS, June 13, 1997, at A7.

[42]. Cannon was exe­cut­ed for a crime com­mit­ted when he was 17 years old. 1st Try Fails to Execute Texas Death Row Inmate, ORLANDO SENT., Apr. 23, 1998, at A16; Michael Graczyk, Texas Executes Man Who Killed San Antonio Attorney at Age 17, AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, Apr. 23, 1998, at B5.

[43]. Michael Graczyk, Reputed Marijuana Smuggler Executed for 1988 Dallas Slaying, ASSOCIATED PRESS, August 271998.

[44]. Sean Whaley, Nevada Executes Killer, LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, Oct. 5, 1998, at 1A.

[45]. Davis Execution Gruesome, GAINESVILLE SUN, July 8, 1999, at 1A.

[46]. Provenzano v. State, 744 So.2d 413, 440 (Fla. 1999).

[47]. Id.

[48]. Id. at 442 – 44.

[49]. Mary Jo Melone, A Switch is Thrown, and God Speaks, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, July 13, 1999, p. 1B.

[50] Ron Moore, At Last I can be with my Babies, SCOTTISH DAILY RECORD, May 4, 2000, at 24.

[51]. Rick Bragg, Florida Inmate Claims Abuse in Execution, N.Y. TIMES, June 9, 2000, at A14; Phil Long & Steve Brousquet, Execution of Slayer Goes Wrong; Delay, Bitter Tirade Precede His Death, MIAMI HERALD, June 82000.

[52] Sarah Rimer, Working Death Row, N.Y. TIMES, Dec. 17, 2000, at 1.

[53]. David Scott, Convicted Killer Who Once Asked to Die is Executed, ASSOCIATED PRESS, June 282000.

[54]. Letter from attor­ney Cheryl Rafert to Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan, June 302000.

[55] Tim O’Neil, Lawyer Says Client Convulsed Violently During Execution; But Three Reporters Say It Did Not hap­pen, St. Louis Post Dispatch, July 62000.

[56] Rhonda Cook, Gang Leader Executed by Injection; Death Comes 25 Years After Boy, 11, Slain, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, November 7, 2001, at 1B (MetroSection).

[57] Alan Johnson, It Don’t Work,’ Inmate Says During Botched Execution, Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, May 32006.

[57] Adam Liptak, Trouble Finding Inmate’s Vein Slows Lethal Injection in Ohio, New York Times, May 3, 2006; John Mangels, Condemned Killer Complains Lethal Injection Isn’t Working,’ Plain Dealer (Cleveland), May 32006.

[58] Terry Aguayo, Florida Death Row Inmate Dies Only After Second Chemical Dose, New York Times, Dec. 152006.

[59] Adam Liptak & Terry Aguayo, After Problem Execution, Governor Bush Suspends the Death Penalty in Florida, New York Times, Dec. 162006.

[60] Ben Crair, Photos from a Botched Lethal Injection, The New Republic, May 29, 2014, avail­able at

[61] Associated Press, May 242007.

[62] Lateef Mungin, Triple Murderer Executed After 40-minute Search for Vein, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 272007.

[63] Rhonda Cook, Executioners had Trouble Putting Murderer to Death: For 35 Minutes, They couldn’t find good Vein for Lethal Injection, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 42008.

[65] Alan Johnson, Effort to Kill Inmate Halted — 2 Hours of Needle Sticks Fail; Strickland Steps In, Columbus Dispatch, Sept. 162009.

[66] Bob Driehaus, Ohio Plans to Try Again as Execution Goes Wrong, New York Times, Sept. 17, 2009; Stephen Majors, Governor delays exe­cu­tion after prob­lems with con­vic­t’s veins, CantonRep​.com/The Repository, Sept. 162009.

[67] Greg Bluestein, Georgia Executes Inmate Who Had Attempted Suicide, Associated Press, Sept. 272010.

[68] Erica Goode, After a Prolonged Execution in Ohio, Questions over Cruel and Unusual’, New York Times, Jan. 172014.

[69] Family Sues in Protracted Ohio Execution, Associated Press/​New York Times, Jan 252014.

[70] Bailey Elise McBride & Sean Murphy, Oklahoma Inmate Dies after Execution is Botched, Associated Press, Apr. 292014.

[71] Eric Eckholm, One Execution Botched, Oklahoma Delays the Next, New York Times, Apr. 292014.

[72] Erik Eckholm, Arizona Takes Nearly 2 Hours to Execute Inmate, New York Times, Jul. 232014.

[73] Bob Ortega, Michael Kiefer, & Mariana Dale, Execution of Arizona Murderer Takes Nearly 2 Hours, The Republic, July 232014.

[74] Rhonda Cook, Georgia Executes Brian Keith Terrell after Struggling to Find Vein, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Dec. 92015.

[75] Chris McDaniel, Georgia Executioners Struggled To Set IVs In Recent Lethal Injections: Executioners took near­ly an hour set the IVs in two recent lethal injec­tions, accord­ing to time­lines obtained by BuzzFeed News through pub­lic records requests and eye­wit­ness accounts, BuzzFeed News, Feb. 162016.

[76] Kent Faulk, Alabama Death Row Inmate Ronald Bert Smith Heaved, Coughed for 13 Minutes During exe­cu­tion, AL​.com, Dec. 82016.

[77] Torrey McNabb’s Final Words for Alabama Before Execution: I Hate You,’ Montgomery Advertiser, Oct. 20, 2007, https://www.montgomeryadvertis…; Kim Chandler, Alabama Inmate Defiant Before Execution for Killing Officer, Associated Press, Oct 202017;

https://​www​.usnews​.com/​n​e​ws/be…;Witness – Alabama Prisoner Still Moving 20 Minutes into Execution with Controversial Drug, Death Penalty Information Center, Oct. 20, 2017, https://​death​penal​ty​in​fo​.org/n….

[78] Andrew Welsh-Huggins, Ohio Calls Off Execution after Failing to Find Inmate’s Vein, Associated Press, Nov. 152017.

[79] Tracy Connor, Lawyer Describes Aborted Execution Attempt for Doyle Lee Hamm as Torture’, NBC News, Feb. 25, 2018; Roger Cohen, Death Penalty Madness in Alabama, New York Times, Feb. 272018.

[80] Sam Roberts, Doyle Hamm, Who Survived a Bungled Execution, Dies in Prison at 64, New York Times, Nov. 302021.

[81] Jaclyn Peiser and Christine Armario, Oklahoma Death Row Inmate Convulsed, Vomited During Lethal Injection, Witness Says, As State Resumes Executions, Washington Post, Oct. 292021.

[82] Id., see also Adam Liptak, After Supreme Court Lifts Stay, Oklahoma Executes Inmate, New York Times, Oct. 282021.

[83] Jimmy Jenkins Chelsea Curtis, Arizona Executes Clarence Dixon for 1978 Murder of Deana Bowdin, AZ Central, May 122002.

[84] Death Penalty Information Center, In Surreal’ Event, Possibly Innocent Death-Row Prisoner Helped Arizona Executioners Find a Vein After They Failed to Set IV Line, June 152022.

[85] Elizabeth Bruenig, Dead to Rights, The Atlantic, August 14, 2022; Amy Yurkanin, Joe Nathan James​‘suf­fered a long death’ in botched Alabama exe­cu­tion, mag­a­zine alleges, AL​.com, August 142022.

[86] Ramon Antonio Vargas, Alabama sub­ject­ed pris­on­er to​‘three hours of pain’ dur­ing exe­cu­tion – report, The Guardian, August 152022.

[87] See Death Penalty Information Center, Alabama Execution of Joe Nathan James Marred by Failures to Set IV Line, Embarrassing Dress-Code Controversy, and Disrespect of Victim’s Family, July 29, 2022; Evan Mealins, ADOC can­not con­firm’ if Joe Nathan James Jr. was ful­ly con­scious before his exe­cu­tion, Montgomery Advertiser, August 22022.

[88] Elizabeth Bruenig, Dead to Rights, The Atlantic, August 142022.

[89] Death Penalty Information Center, Federal Court Orders Alabama to Preserve Evidence of Botched Attempted Execution of Alan Miller, September 26, 2022; Ivana Hrynkiw, Alabama not ready to use nitro­gen hypox­ia for Sept. 22 exe­cu­tion, AL​.com, September 15, 2022; Kim Chandler, Alabama says its [sic] not ready to exe­cute by nitro­gen hypox­ia, Associated Press, September 15, 2022.
 

[90] Kim Bellware & Derek Hawkins, Execution Halted at Last Minute when Ala. Prison Staff Can’t Find Vein, Washington Post, September 23, 2022; Death Penalty Information Center, Alan Miller Asks Federal Court to Bar Alabama from Second Attempt to Execute Him by Lethal Injection, October 192022.

[91] See Joint Stipulation and Agreement, Miller v. Hamm, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, Civil Action 2:33-cv-00506-RAH (Nov 282022).

[92] Jolie McCullough, Texas’ Execution of Stephen Barbee was Prolonged while Officials Searched for a Vein, The Texas Tribune, November 162022.

[93] Jimmy Jenkins, Miguel Torres, & Angela Cordoba Perez, In Murray Hopper Execution, Arizona Struggles with Lethal Injection for 3rd Time, Arizona Republic, November 162022.

[94] Ivana Hrynkiw, Alabama Inmate Describes Failed Execution Attempt: Unknown Injections, Repeated Attempts to Start IV, November 282022.

[95] Nicholas Bogl-Burroughs, Alabama Again Cancels an Execution Over Delays Inserting IV Lines, N.Y. Times, November 172022.

[96] Death Penalty Information Center, Alabama Governor Halts Executions After Latest in Series of Execution Failures, November 232022.

[97] Rebecca Boone, Idaho Halts Execution by Lethal Injection after 8 Failed Attempts to Insert IV Line, Associated Press, February 282024.