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Prison rights leader blasts Gov. Brewer over execution investigation

PHOENIX -- Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is drawing some criticism over Wednesday's execution of a death row inmate at the Arizona State Prison in Florence.

The execution of convicted murderer Joseph Wood took more than two hours to complete, and has resulted in renewed controversy of the use of lethal injections.

Donna Leone Hamm of the prison rights group Middle Ground said that the length of time it took Wood to die was unusual. During an appearance on News/Talk 92.3 KTAR's Arizona's Morning News Weekend, Hamm criticized Brewer for the way she's handling the situation.

"The governor came out and said she was calling for a full investigation," Hamm said. "But then she appointed the corrections director to investigate his own department. We can pretty much ascertain how independent that investigation is going to be.

"Secondly, she made a determination based on witness statements that said he didn't suffer -- that he was just snoring."

Hamm noted that a reporter who witnessed the execution claims that Wood was actually gasping, and did so more than 600 times. According to Hamm, Brewer has seemingly concluded, without considering scientific evidence, that the execution was legal and that Wood didn't suffer.

The prison rights leader is calling for an independent investigation.

About the Author


Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.

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