Frank Atwood, an Arizona death row inmate spent nearly half an hour strapped to a gurney as executioners struggled to get a needle into his veins before he was put to death on Wednesday for the murder of an 8-year-old girl in 1984.
Jimmy Jenkins, a reporter for Arizona Central, sat in an observation room at the Arizona State Prison in Florence on Wednesday watching a monitor as Frank Atwood, 66, was killed for the kidnapping and murder of Vicki Lynne Hoskinson, an 8-year-old girl whose body was found in the Tucson desert months after she disappeared.
In a series of tweets, Jenkins described in vivid detail how Atwood had to instruct his executioners how to get a needle into his veins so he could die by lethal injection.
He wrote that the executioners entered the chamber wearing all black – black shirts, hats, gloves, sunglasses and masks to obscure their face – before two men in blue medical gowns and hair nets pushed in a ‘messy, disorganized cart full of medical supplies.’
At first, Jenkins tweeted, the execution team inserted an IV and catheter into Atwood’s left arm, then wheeled their cart around to the other side and told him they were going to insert another IV into a femoral vein.
‘Why?’ Atwood reportedly asked. ‘They draw blood from my left arm with no problem all the time,’ he told the execution team, as Jenkins said he appeared to be grimacing and in pain.
The executioners did not reply about why they wanted to put another line in his femoral vein, but decided to listen to Atwood, and insert it into his arm as he suggested.
Still, Jenkins reports, they tried and failed to get it set up several times, at which point Atwood reportedly said: ‘I don’t understand, they’ve never had this problem before.’
The team then suggested going in through his groin, Jenkins reports, but Atwood asked them: ‘Could you try the hand? They have been able to go in there before as well.’
Again, Jenkins said, the IV team agreed, with Jenkins writing that they ‘looked at each other and said, “Sure, we’ll give that a try.”‘
That time, Jenkins wrote, it worked – and Atwood was pronounced dead at 10.16am local time.
Atwood has been on death row in Arizona for over 35 years, as his lawyers repeatedly tried to stay his execution.
He was convicted in 1987 of the kidnapping and murder of Vicki, whose body was found in the Tucson desert seven months after she first disappeared from her house.