Done right, execution by the needle is supposed to take 10-15 minutes. Obviously, this wasn’t done right. Clayton Lockett, the inmate who died during a botched lethal injection three months ago in Oklahoma, ended up having a heart attack on the gurney after 20 minutes. Joseph Wood, the inmate executed yesterday, didn’t have a heart attack; depending upon which of the witnesses you ask, he either “gasped” for two hours or he “snored.” A reporter who watched it happen describes it this way:
This sort of thing doesn’t happen with firing squads, hanging, or guillotines.