FLORENCE, AZ — The first execution in Arizona in nearly eight years was carried out more smoothly than the state’s last use of the death penalty, when a condemned prisoner who was given 15 doses of a two-drug combination gasped for air hundreds of times over nearly two hours.
But death penalty experts say Wednesday's lethal-injection death of Clarence Dixon at the state prison in Florence took too long to carry out, as medical staff spent about 25 minutes inserting an IV.
Similar problems have occurred before, leading lethal injection executions to be called off.
Witnesses say Dixon's execution went "as planned" and Dixon "went to sleep almost immediately" once the drugs were injected. The Department of Corrections reportedly used a drug called "pentobarbital" during this execution, which is different than the drug used in the 2014 execution that many say was "botched."
A media witness says Dixon didn’t make eye contact with anybody, staring at the ceiling the entire time.
At one point, medical professionals had trouble getting the IV into Dixon's left arm but were ultimately successful in putting them in his left arm and groin area.
Something that was new for this execution was that witnesses were able to see the IVs going in. They were also able to see the drug being administered and pushed through the lines.
Some witnesses say Dixon grimaced when the IV was going in and that it took roughly three minutes after the drug went in before his mouth fell open and he appeared to stop breathing.