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A Slow, Cruel Death

Posted on Dec 14, 2006
injection rig

A man executed in Florida on Wednesday took 34 minutes to die by lethal injection, and required two doses of lethal chemicals.  He appeared to grimace before dying, leading some to believe he experienced pain from the procedure.

The key legal test of the death penalty, as witnessed in California recently, is whether the process is cruel and unusual.  Though judicial interpretation of the phrase can vary, the tedious execution of a man who may have been in pain could give capital punishment opponents something to work with.


STARKE, Fla.—Death penalty opponents criticized the execution of a convicted murderer who took more than half an hour to die and needed a rare second dose of lethal chemicals.

Angel Nieves Diaz, 55, convicted of murdering a Miami topless bar manager 27 years ago, appeared to grimace before dying 34 minutes after receiving a double lethal chemical dose Wednesday.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said she doesn’t believe Diaz felt any pain. She said Diaz started snoring and became unconscious after the first three drugs were administered and never regained consciousness.

Plessinger said Diaz had liver disease, which required the second dose of lethal chemicals. But Diaz’s cousin Maria Otero said the family had no knowledge that he suffered from liver disease and said the execution was political.

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By rae2, December 19, 2006 at 12:39 pm Link to this comment
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Applying the death penalty is an act of primal behavior called REVENGE, pure & simple. Sophisticated societies the world over recognize this fact and have civilized their punishments accordingly. Not the USA it seems. We still love lynchings… the more public the better.

Aboriginal societies the world over have known for millennia that BANISHMENT is a FAR GREATER PUNISHMENT than death.

Prisons are one form of banishment but they’ve gone soft-headed over time. Some of them are more like country retreats!

I suggest the USA purchase a million acres of land in Northern Greenland or Canada, build basic shelters so far from the property line than no one could possibly escape without an aircraft and live, and send the incorrigibles there… FOREVER. No phones or internet. No TV. No books, magazines, newspapers. No possible way to participate in free society ever again.

The felons can run their new “home” any way they want. They can murder each other or make love to each other or arrange their affairs any way they want. Whatever it becomes it’s their bed and they can damn well lie in it.

Adequate food & water. Adequate Shelter. Adequate health care. And that’s it.

And that’s one hell of lot more than tens of thousands of law-abiding Americans have RIGHT NOW!

And the good part is… should any one of them be later proved to be innocent… they’re still alive to be brought back to freedom! Bonus!

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By Outraged, December 14, 2006 at 7:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think the real question here is not so much whether he suffered pain but more one of was he guilty. It’s difficult to find people anywhere who abjectly disagree with capital punishment of a person GUILTY of a heinous crime.  However, our justice system is full of flaws and “indiscrepancies”.  Therefore, until we can institute a “PERFECT” system (which of course is impossible), capital punishment should not be allowed.  Anyone who whole-hearted endorses capital punishment especially given the current climate of things, doesn’t have their head screwed on straight!

In the case where the crimes are very public, as in the case of Suddam Hussein, most people find it very easy to endorse.  However, that leaves us with the nagging question…What to do with an administration that invaded Iraq under false pretenses and left (if I remember correctly) to date over 600,000 Iraqis dead and approximately 3,ooo American soldiers.  And we haven’t even tallied up the maimed and injured.

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By Montie Shields USAF RET., December 14, 2006 at 6:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When is courts going to get smart, and tell
these killers to stop being cry babies. They
are really tough when they are butchering some
helpless people from babies to the elderly. Who
speaks for them. Did the killers worry whether
their victim was hurting. Did they make sure
their victim had a sanitary place to die.Absol-
utely not. In fact many got pleasure watching
their victims suffer. I say tell these creaps
if they don’t want to feel pain. Don’t KILL!!
It’s a shame the richest country on the Planet
has the highest abuse death rate. Thats accord-
ing to The United Nations Children’s Fund.

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By dan, December 14, 2006 at 5:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

i think the punishment should fit the crime, maybe he should ofdied the way he killed his victims

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By PAUL, December 14, 2006 at 5:43 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A murderer felt some pain? My God, he even grimaced?? His victim didn’t grimace when he got shot, did he???

OK, the death penalty is unfairly meted out to the underclass, true enough. On that basis it should be reworked if not abolished. But since it’s currently in effect for Floridians, let’s not pretend it’s something it’s not, i.e. sleepy time for bad guys.

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By Frank, December 14, 2006 at 4:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Innocent woman and children die of starvation, disease, violent rape and murder every day around the world, and I am supposed to care that a convicted murdered seemed to ‘grimace’ before he died? Screw him. I hope his grimace gave the victims family some satisfaction.

Truthdig, sew up your bleeding heart, grow a backbone and get on with the real news, please.

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By Nate, December 14, 2006 at 2:37 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Barbaric” huh? Would you describe his killing of another man to be barbaric?

Human life is indeed precious, but punishment should also fit the crime. He deprived another human being of life and I’m guessing it wasn’t painless. Worrying about whether or not he felt pain when he was put to death is irrelevant.

What I worry about is that he was in prison for 27 years before he was put to death. People are okay with paying for his being in jail for 27 years, but they’re outraged that he was put to death in a “barbaric” way. I’d be more outraged that part of my taxes paid to keep a roof over his head for 27 years.

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By Busta, December 14, 2006 at 2:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m against the death penalty, because prison is a worse punishment.  But we try to make sure that these murders have as easy a death is possible.  Their victims don’t get the same treatment, if he suffered at all so be it.

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By Marc S, December 14, 2006 at 12:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

How can you say barbaric? the man was a murderer and got what he deserved. The death penalty opponents will complain of any method whatsoever. What should the punishment be?...death, by natural causes, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the murderers enjoyment of a happy life?

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By Tim Austin, December 14, 2006 at 12:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

poor baby, who cares. my only concern is that he didnt feel enough pain to make him sorry for what he did.

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By mike zacchino, December 14, 2006 at 12:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

DennisD, have you considered the posssibility that Diaz may be innocent of this crime?

The conviction was largely based on the testimony of a jailhouse informant, Ralph Gajus, who later said he made up the story.

Any court that hands down a death sentance on the word of a jailhouse informant should be willing to withdraw the sentance of death if said snitch changes his mind.  Obviously the informant is lying one time. 

If anything, a court should give less weight—not more—to the story of guilt, as there may be some reward to the informant for telling a lie, even if it means just getting the guy moved because they don’t get along.

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By Nihlo, December 14, 2006 at 12:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In the news recently was a story on the discovery of the existence of certain pain-registering activity in the brains of newborns.  Has this type of research been done on the recipients of state execution?  It seems like something that should be done, if it can be.

“Has anyone asked if Angel Diaz’s victim felt any “pain”?”

The American justice system is not supposed to be about retribution (it’s preventative and, supposedly, rehabilitive), and innocent people are occasionally executed, so this question is totally beside the point.

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By Jonathan, December 14, 2006 at 11:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In response to comment #42152: Dennis, it is likely that the victim felt pain, and that the victim’s loved ones felt considerably more pain.  The question is: is state-sanctioned killing a good thing or not?  Whilst the need for revenge is understandable, and lives within us all, at some level, the act of achieving it simply puts the erstwhile victim on the same level as the original perpetrator.  Like the original crime, it is a lose-lose situation.  Killing is a brutal act, and when society condones it, it brutalizes that society - we become inured to it, and the value of human life is diminished, cheapened.  Yes, the individual murderer diminishes the value of life: do we, as members of a society, want to emulate that behaviour, with the use of capital punnishment, or do we want to demonstrate that life has value and is to be treated with reverence?  (That would be the true repudiation of the values of a murderer).  Currently, our nation’s children witness the most barbaric scenes of gruesome violence when they watch T.V or play certain video games, (all created in service of making a buck).  Then, we tell them that killing is wrong, but execute some people who themselves killed others.  Confused, anyone?  Talk about lethal cocktail!

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By C Quil, December 14, 2006 at 8:33 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The way this man was killed was barbaric.

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By DennisD, December 14, 2006 at 8:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Has anyone asked if Angel Diaz’s victim felt any “pain”?

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