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Good Question: How Can Executions Go Wrong?

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(credit: CBS) John Lauritsen
John Lauritsen is a reporter from Montevideo, Minn. He joined WCCO-...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Joe Wood was a convicted killer, sentenced to death for murdering his estranged girlfriend and her father.

But despite taking two lives, many don’t agree with how his life was taken.

Witnesses say Wood gasped more than 600 times during his execution, and one witness said he looked like “a fish on shore gulping for air.”

Earlier this year, two similar executions happened in Ohio and Oklahoma. Twin Cities lawyer Joe Friedberg says drug companies in Europe have started taking the stance of not shipping drugs to states that plan on using them for executions.

“So the states that use the lethal injection have been putting together different protocols with different drugs,” Friedberg said.

This has had mixed results. So far this year, there have been 26 executions, all by lethal injection. Thirty-two states have the death penalty. Some even have the electric chair, hanging and firing squads as options.

But lethal injection is the primary method, and considered by many as the most humane.

“The Supreme Court has not held that the death penalty is cruel and unusual treatment,” Friedberg said.

President Obama has issued a policy review of how executions are handled, and he’s far from alone in hoping that the problem gets fixed, one way or another.

Over the past 10 years, there has been an average of 50 executions a year in the U.S.

Minnesota has not had the death penalty for more than 100 years.

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