A death row inmate died in “tremendous pain” during a drawn-out execution which left him “writhing in agony.”
TW: This article contains information some may find distressing.
Attorney Jim Belanger represented triple murderer Don Harding, who was responsible for a series of killings in Arizona back in 1980.
He infamously tied up businessmen Robert Wise and Martin Concannon before attacking and shooting them in a hotel. He was later found guilty of another murder carried out the same way and after being convicted, Harding was eventually put to death in 1992 in the state’s gas chamber.
And now, Belanger has shared more on the gruesome execution as Arizona plans to reintroduce lethal gas.
Witnesses were initially taken to a chapel next to the gas chamber to watch the execution take place.
Harding had been stripped “virtually naked” wearing just his underwear, with an electronic monitor reading his heart rate.
Cyanide pellets were then dropped into a bowl of sulphuric acid, which created the gas that slowly killed him.
Belanger wrote, “His face was red and contorted as if he were attempting to fight through tremendous pain. His mouth was pursed shut and his jaw was clenched tight. Don then took several quick gulps of the fumes.
“Don’s body started convulsing violently and his arms strained against the straps. His face and body turned a deep red and the veins in his temple and neck began to bulge until I thought they might explode. Every few seconds he gulped for air. He was shuddering uncontrollably and his body was wracked with spasms. His head continued to snap back and forth. His hands were tightly clenched.”
Harding’s convulsions lasted for several minutes as spit began pouring from his mouth…
And it took a total of 10 horrifying minutes and thirty-one seconds for him to die, with at least 8 of those spent “writhing in agony.”
Reporter Carla McClain said his body “turned bright red, almost purple.”
Cameron Harper, who was an anchorman also chimed in, saying: “It was an ugly event. We put animals to death more humanely than this guy.”
Steve Twist, Arizona’s assistant attorney general, called it “an awful, solemn way” of punishment.
Arizona will be bringing this method of execution back, although they will now be using hydrogen cyanide, the gas used in Auschwitz by the Nazis during World War II.
The state’s department of corrections has reportedly already spent more than $2,000 on the ingredients and $1,530 on potassium cyanide.
What do you think about the reintroduction of this horrifying method of execution?