Saturday, 10 February 2007

Commission investigates botched execution

Commission investigates botched execution

Last Edited: Friday, 09 Feb 2007, 5:42 PM EST Angel Diaz was executed Wednesday. (photo courtesy Fla. Dept. of Corrections)

TAMPA - The Governor's Commission charged with investigating the botched execution of death-row inmate Angel Diaz heard controversial testimony Friday.

The executioner couldn't find Angel Diaz' veins, which is why, experts say, it took two doses of the deadly chemical cocktail and an unprecedented 34 minutes to take his life.

Prison officials and former Governor Jeb Bush defended the execution. They blamed the botched procedure on the prisoner's liver disease.

But when chemical burn marks were found on Diaz' arms, an investigation began.

"What happened, how it happened, where there might have been mistakes, and how it can be done in a more appropriate fashion," are some of the questions current Governor Charlie Crist wants answered.

As the Governor's Commission met here in Tampa, there was testimony by telephone in a disguised voice from the executioner who admitted he had no medical training. He said, though, that he'd had a refresher course seven years ago

Angel Diaz' sister, Maria Otero, clutched a picture of her brother, as her daughter testified that there was not one Spanish speaking person in the execution chamber.

Aside from the language barrier, Sol Otero charged that paralyzing drugs used before the death injection silenced the inmate, made it impossible for him to cry out, and allowed prison officials to claim there was no suffering.

"You could tell that from the first meeting to this meeting, they are all protecting themselves. They do not monitor anything," said Sol Otero, Diaz' niece.

Carol Weihler, who says she is a victim of anesthesia malpractice, told the Commission how the same paralyzing drug used in executions prevented her from crying out during a botched eye surgery.

"Whether or not the death penalty is inherently cruel or unusual, I can tell you that what I felt was cruel and unusual, and no one should be subject to that," Weihler said.

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