Thomas West execution witness reportPosted: Updated:
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Arizona's 91st inmate to be put to death received a lethal injection Tuesday for the 1987 murder of Don Bortle.
Fox 11's Lou Raguse was selected to be one of five media witnesses at the execution. This is his experience.
It was our job to take good notes of everything we observed, and report back to the rest of the media about what we take in.
We were separated at the prison upon arriving and were the first ones to enter the execution room which is in a small building called Housing Unit 9 at the prison in Florence.
We were situated on risers in the small room, separated by sound-proof glass and a curtain from the inmate. The rest of the witnesses entered our room. Since no family members of the victim, or of the inmate wanted to come, the witnesses consisted mostly of lawyers and a few others witnesses of the state including former Tucson city councilmember Rodney Glassman.
At 11 O'Clock the curtain separating us from Thomas West opened. He initially was looking through the glass at us and made some pointing motions and held up the two-finger peace sign. Then he laid back, closed his eyes and never reopened them.
When the corrections director asked West if he had any last words, West ignored him.
The flow of drugs began at 11:01 and by 11:03 his chest was heaving more heavily and he seemed almost to be snoring.
At 11:06 we heard the director through a microphone say its confirmed the inmate is sedated.
By that point it was difficult to tell if West was still breathing. After the rest of the drugs were administered, at 11:10 the director told us the execution was completed and the curtain promptly closed.
There was no visible emotion by any of the witnesses.
Of the five journalists witnessing the execution, I was the only one who's never seen one before.
All of them told me this was the quietest execution they've ever witnessed, and with the least emotion.