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The Terrible Process of Execution and Its Peaceful Confrontation by Anthony (Frank Atwood – Monk Ephraim)


On June 8, Arizona accomplished the state’s second execution because the botched execution of double-murderer Joseph Rudolph Wood in 2014. Reporter Jimmy Jenkins was a witness, however not as a media pool reporter. What follows is his account of what he noticed.I’ve witnessed life. And I’ve witnessed dying. But nothing may have ready me for the surreal spectacle I witnessed in the course of the execution of Frank Atwood. People informed me I’d expertise shock, however watching the state of Arizona put Frank Atwood to dying for the kidnapping and homicide of 8-year-old Vicki Lynne Hoskinson did greater than stun me — it modified me, essentially, as an individual.

A big group of individuals gathered outdoors the state jail in Florence to be processed by a safety checkpoint early Wednesday morning, hours earlier than the scheduled execution. It was not not like the airport: present title and ID, take off belts and put watches right into a plastic tub. Walking by a malfunctioning steel detector, getting wanded and continuing alongside.

We have been separated into teams. The Arizona Republic was as soon as once more denied a request to be a media witness for the execution, so I requested Atwood’s lawyer if he would take into account itemizing me as one among his witnesses. He agreed and so I used to be with the remainder of Atwood’s witnesses all through the day. However, as a result of I used to be not an official media witness, I used to be not allowed to convey a pencil or paper. Nevertheless, the small print of the day stay clearly and vividly imprinted in my thoughts.

His spouse, Rachel, was there in a black costume, crimson hair pouring down her face together with a gradual stream of tears. Also current have been two religious advisers carrying lengthy black, flowing robes who had identified Atwood for a few years. Two members of his church have been additionally current, in addition to a number of of his attorneys.

Prison officers stored Atwood’s witnesses separate from different witnesses and ushered us right into a sparse visitation room within the Florence Prison Central Unit the place we waited for nearly an hour.

As we waited, jail officers introduced in an ice chest stuffed with bottled water and dragged in some chairs, which we circled round Rachel and listened to her speak concerning the greater than three many years she knew Atwood.

Rachel visited her husband in jail for 35 years. They had been married for 30. She stated she reached out to him after watching his trial and so they started exchanging letters.

She talked about how she spent years typing out his handwritten correspondence into work that will finally turn into his thesis, in addition to a number of self-published books.

She stated she realized concerning the Greek Orthodox religion by his letters, and he or she finally transformed to the religion herself. “It was not a bodily relationship, however a deeply religious one,” she stated.

Members of Atwood’s congregation talked about how the press in Greece and different components of the world appeared to be paying extra consideration to his case than the media within the U.S.

They stated there have been a whole lot of members of their congregation gathered at their church praying for him and lots of extra throughout the nation and world.

Entering the execution chamber

When it was time to go away the visitation room and go to the execution chamber, we lined up on the doorway. Prison officers tried to forestall Atwood’s attorneys from taking pencils and paper. They refused, saying they wanted them to take notes on the timing of the execution, and so they have been lastly allowed to convey them after our handler contacted another person who authorized. While revealed protocols of executions particularly observe that media witnesses ought to be allowed paper and pencils, they don’t specify whether or not others ought to be allowed writing supplies.

The stroll from the visitation to the execution chamber took 10 minutes. Bookended by jail officers, our group walked the trail by the not too long ago decommissioned Florence jail. It was greater than 100 levels out because the Arizona solar baked down upon us. We walked previous empty guard towers, empty medical models, and empty warehouses that have been as soon as crammed to the brim with prisoners.

All we may hear have been our footsteps and Rachel’s sobs. We handed a solemn group of saguaros standing guard in the course of the jail yard.

When we arrived at Housing Unit 9, the constructing that incorporates the execution chamber, a jail administrator opened the door and ushered us into the commentary room.

We walked to the far wall and I climbed a set of risers, sitting in a spot towards the wall the place I may see into the execution chamber by the glass. Three media witnesses arrived subsequent, adopted by witnesses for the prosecution, regulation enforcement officers and the sufferer’s household, together with Vicki Lynne’s mom, Debbie Carlson.

We have been all repeatedly instructed towards talking or making any outbursts. From the place I used to be seated, I couldn’t see the sufferer’s household or their reactions.

Surrounded by devices of dying

There have been three displays above the window into the chamber, which was lined with a drawn black curtain. Two of the displays displayed the identical top-down view of the gurney. The third monitor confirmed a view from above of the execution drug vials and the devices used to push them into the tubes that will be related to Atwood’s physique.

We didn’t see Atwood enter the execution chamber, as is required by a federal court docket injunction. The curtain parted because the execution staff lifted his frail physique onto the gurney, presumably from a wheelchair.

The black curtain to the execution chamber was pulled again revealing a facet view of Atwood as he lay on the gurney. He was surrounded by 4 execution staff members carrying black shirts, black hats, black gloves, black masks hiding their faces, and black sun shades.

We watched on the displays because the execution staff restrained him. A pillow was positioned below his head to assist him cope with ache introduced on by an ongoing spinal situation. He was shackled in a number of locations, arms unfold out on both facet of the gurney.

Atwood was carrying a black head protecting known as a skoufo within the Greek Orthodox religion with a crimson cross on it. As the execution staff unbuttoned his orange jail jumpsuit to position a coronary heart monitor on his physique, a black cross was revealed to be hanging from his neck.

I braced myself, mentally for what I used to be about to see, and bodily towards a chilly metal wall subsequent to me, which I spotted was the not too long ago refurbished fuel chamber. I used to be fairly actually surrounded by devices of dying.

Prisoner tells executioners the place to position IV

Like Clarence Dixon, due to when his crime was dedicated, Atwood had a selection of dying by fuel or deadly injection. Atwood requested to be put to dying by nitrogen fuel, however Arizona Department of Corrections protocols name for cyanide. His request was decided, legally, to be a non-selection, and due to this fact the state’s default methodology of deadly injection was used.

Two males in blue medical robes and hair nets entered the room pushing a disorganized cart stuffed with medical provides essential to insert IVs into Atwood’s physique.

The IV insertion course of for Dixon, the latest man executed in Arizona, took greater than 40 minutes, and resulted within the staff having to chop into his femoral vein. This time, they began with Atwood’s left arm, swabbing his pores and skin and feeling for a vein.

After a couple of minutes and what gave the impression to be a number of makes an attempt, the execution staff inserted an IV and catheter into Atwood’s left arm. Then they wheeled the cart to the opposite facet of his physique, and informed him they have been going to insert an IV into his femoral vein.

“Why?” Atwood requested. “They draw blood from my proper arm with no drawback on a regular basis,” he informed the staff.

Atwood already gave the impression to be grimacing and in some ache from the time spent strapped to the gurney, showing to not need the method to go on longer.

The staff members didn’t say why they needed to place the second line into his femoral vein in his groin space. But they informed Atwood they’d try to insert it into his proper arm — as he had steered.

“My god,” I assumed to myself, “the execution staff is taking course from the person they’re trying to execute.”

Atwood, who has frequently maintained his innocence, spoke softly to the execution staff members. He appeared considerably annoyed, however continued to supply steerage to the lads working to take his life away.

The execution staff tried and didn’t get the IV into his proper arm a number of occasions. One of the execution staff members shook his head in frustration. “I do not perceive,” Atwood stated, “they’ve by no means had this drawback earlier than.”

Again the execution staff steered going into Atwood’s groin to place the second IV into his femoral vein. “Could you attempt the hand?” Atwood steered, nodding to his restrained proper hand and wiggling his fingers. “They have been in a position to go in there earlier than as properly.”

The IV staff members checked out one another, checked out Atwood, checked out one another once more, and stated “Sure, we’ll give {that a} attempt.”

Arizona Department of Corrections protocols require that a number of members of the IV staff have some form of expertise, licensure or medical coaching. They are purported to apply the process at the very least as soon as earlier than the execution. Whether these two males had any formal coaching is unknown, however I couldn’t recover from their willingness to drop the plan they’d apparently been practising in favor of Atwood’s options.

I considered the previous Arizona Department of Corrections executioner Jim Klein, who informed me they used a prosthetic arm to apply on earlier than deadly injections, earlier than finally inserting IVs into each other.

Klein stated execution staff members have been informed the jail medical employees didn’t take part in executions as a result of they’d taken the Hippocratic oath. That meant the complicated activity of performing the executions was left as much as a gaggle of jail staff who often had no medical background in any respect.

Atwood’s suggestion to discover a vein in his proper hand proved efficient. They have been in a position to get the second IV in and safe the catheter. They taped the whole lot down, hooked up the tubes that connect with the medication, and left the room. By my estimate, the method took about half-hour.

‘I pray the Lord could have mercy on all of us’

At this level, Atwood’s Greek Orthodox religious adviser, Father Paisios, was allowed to enter the execution chamber. Paisios’ presence, a primary for executions in Arizona, was the results of an settlement between Atwood and the state. Execution protocols beforehand solely allowed a religious adviser to be in one other room; nevertheless, Atwood’s attorneys stated this violated his constitutional rights, and demanded Paisios have the ability to be within the chamber in the course of the execution.

Like Atwood, Paisios wore a black skoufo and an extended grayish-white beard. He positioned a bit of ceremonial fabric known as a epitrachelion over Atwood’s head, and held it in place along with his hand. Paisios leaned near Atwood’s face and talked to him in hushed tones. Atwood smiled and nodded his head and appeared comforted by Paisios’ presence.

A Department of Corrections official entered the chamber and browse Atwood’s warrant of execution, and invited Atwood to make his final assertion.

Atwood regarded on the gallery with a peaceable and realizing countenance.

Atwood thanked his spouse, Rachel, his authorized staff and his religious advisers, who he stated had introduced him “right here to the sting of paradise.”

“Thank you, valuable Father, for coming immediately and shepherding me into religion,” Atwood stated. “I wish to thank my lovely spouse who has cherished me with the whole lot she has. I wish to thank my buddies and authorized staff, and, most of all, Jesus Christ, by this unfair judicial course of that led to my salvation. I pray the Lord could have mercy on all of us and that the Lord could have mercy on me.”

The DOC official left the room, and on one of many displays, we may see an execution staff member start to push a syringe of pentobarbital into the tubes related to Atwood’s physique.

Atwood virtually instantly turned his head towards the gallery, closed his eyes and commenced exhaling loudly, making a loud night breathing, snorting sound.

His respiratory grew to become extra shallow, after which completely inaudible.

Paisios stored his hand on Atwood’s head the complete time. He appeared to shake his head in unhappiness at one level, trying on the medication as they flowed into Atwood’s physique, after which trying away.

“The inmate is sedated,” a DOC official stated after coming into the room once more a couple of minutes later. More time glided by, and Atwood was fully immobile. Entering the room once more, the DOC official pronounced, “The execution is full.”

As the black curtain started to shut, the 2 aged males in spiritual clothes — one alive and one lifeless — have been framed towards the white background of the execution chamber, slowly exiting from public view.

Witnesses have been escorted from the chamber in teams, in reverse order from earlier than, leaving Atwood’s witnesses to take a seat longest with what they’d simply witnessed.

Several have been sobbing; others appeared to be in a state of shock.

“The love of my life is lifeless,” Rachel Atwood stated, collapsing into the arms of an lawyer.

The true nature of capital punishment

As we walked again into the daylight and throughout the jail yard, I attempted to course of what occurred.

The Department of Corrections protocols be certain that few individuals see an execution, and there may be little public consciousness of this most critical and ultimate act of justice. The dying penalty is introduced as a clear, sterile, administrative process carried out flawlessly and by the e-book. Now I do know what they have been making an attempt to cover.

I’ve regarded behind the scenes of capital punishment and seen it for what it really is: a frail outdated man lifted from a wheelchair onto a handicap accessible deadly injection gurney; nervous fingers and perspiring faces looking for a vein; needles puncturing pores and skin; liquid medication flooding a person’s existence and drowning it out.

I’ve written extensively about Atwood’s case. I listened to the sufferer’s household speak concerning the ache and struggling the homicide of Vicki Lynne, and subsequent court docket case, prompted them — the generational trauma it left with their household and the group of Tucson. I talked with each lawyer I do know concerning the course of and requested questions on what I used to be about to witness.

But I used to be not ready to see the act of capital punishment carried out in entrance of me.

The state of Arizona conducts executions in all of our names. I assumed I understood the load of that course of, however now I really feel the truth of it. We killed a person immediately. I killed a person immediately. And I’ll dwell with that realization for the remainder of my life.

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