Warden: Diaz Showed No Signs Of Pain In Botched Execution
POSTED: 2:43 pm EST January 29, 2007
UPDATED: 2:46 pm EST January 29, 2007TAMPA, Fla. -- A convicted killer whose execution was botched last year was never in any pain, the death row prison's supervising warden told a panel reviewing Florida's lethal injection procedures Monday.
But the man's lawyer said his client was clearly hurting from the incorrectly injected deadly chemicals.Angel Nieves Diaz appeared to be straining to see a clock, not grimacing in pain as other witnesses have said, Florida State Prison Warden Randall Bryant told the 11-member commission.
"He had the opportunity to be able to scream, cry, yell and that sort of thing and that did not happen," said Bryant, who stood about 2 feet from Diaz during the Dec. 13 execution.
But it would have been difficult for Diaz to see the clock because it was behind his strapped-down head and a guard would have blocked his view.
The procedure took 34 minutes -- twice as long as usual -- and required a rare second dose of lethal chemicals because the needles were incorrectly inserted through his veins and into the flesh in his arms, a medical examiner reported.
An autopsy found chemical burns in both his arms.
Then-Gov. Jeb Bush created the commission to examine whether improvements can be made to the way lethal injections are administered -- not whether the system should be scrapped.
Executions in Florida have been halted until the commission releases its report, due to new Gov. Charlie Crist by March 1."The only thing that seemed different was the length of time," Bryant said of the Diaz execution.
It was the fourth lethal injection execution he has supervised on Florida's death row.
Diaz's lawyer, Neal Dupree, told the commission his client was clearly in pain.
"He appeared to be grimacing. It looked like he was in pain to me," Dupree said. "He almost appeared to be a fish out of water. He was gasping. And that went on for period of about 10 to 12 minutes. You could see body movement. You could see clutching and unclutching."
Dupree also said Diaz also appeared to be saying something.
Bryant said he heard only unintelligible muttering from Diaz, which was not out of the ordinary. Several people on the prison's execution team have said Diaz said "What's happening?" twice during the process.
Death penalty opponents point to the Diaz execution to bolster their claims Florida's lethal injection procedure violates the U.S. Constitution's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.
Condemned inmates have also pushed that issue in court, so far to no avail.
State Sen. Victor Crist, R-Tampa, said he found testimony from officials who were actually in the death chamber compelling when compared to the limited view from the witness chamber.
"I went from thinking, 'What went wrong?' to, 'How can we do this better?"' said Crist, who pushed to switch Florida's execution method from electrocution to lethal injection.
Panelists asked to hear from the executioners and medical team, whose identities are closely guarded by the Florida Department of Corrections.
American Medical Association guidelines bar doctors from taking part, directly or indirectly, in executions.
No date was set to take their testimony for the commission, which reconvenes on Feb. 5.
Officials testified Monday that the prison medical team was satisfied with the insertion of the needles before they continued with the execution.
Diaz, 55, a career criminal, was sentenced to death for killing a Miami topless bar manager 27 years ago. He had proclaimed his innocence until his execution.