A medical examiner said today that prison officials in Florida “botched the insertion of needles” during an execution earlier this week, causing the inmate to die after 34 minutes, which is twice as long as normal.

Now, Gov. Jeb Bush as stopped signing death warrants until a commission charged with examining the lethal injection process completes its report.

 

Dr. William Hamilton performed an autopsy on 55-year-old Angel Nieves Diaz and told CNN that the needles only pierced his veins before going into the soft tissue in his arm. The chemicals are supposed to be injected into the veins. Hamilton would not say if the mistake caused Diaz to die a painful death.

 

“I am going to defer answers about pain and suffering until the autopsy is complete,” Hamilton said. It is expected to take several weeks for all the test results to be completed.

 

Death penalty opponents say Diaz “appeared to grimace” before he died.

 

“I am definitely appalled at what happened,” said Suzanne Myers Keffer, Diaz’s attorney. “I have no doubt he suffered unduly.”

 

Prison officials had said that Diaz needed a second dose of the chemicals because “liver disease caused him to metabolize the drugs more slowly.” Hamilton said Diaz had hepatitis but his liver was fine.

Inmates typically die after about 15 minutes, but Diaz was still moving after 24 minutes. He died 10 minutes later.

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