Victims' Families Seek Justice, Retribution And Closure From Death Penalty
By ALLEN G. BREED
Randy Browning watched from behind the glass as Kimberly McCarthy slipped quietly into unconsciousness, snored briefly, then finally stopped breathing. It didn't matter to him that this woman — who'd brutally stabbed and mutilated his beloved godmother and mentor — was allowed a peaceful, painless death.
For Browning, it was enough to know that Dorothy Booth's murderer was no more.
"I'm happy not to share the planet with Kimberly McCarthy," he said from his home in Austin, Texas. "But would I want her to be strung up and tortured? No."
The prolonged — some say "botched" — execution of double murderer Joseph Rudolph Wood last week in Arizona fanned the flames of the unending debate over whether vicious killers should suffer as they die for their crimes. The controversy follows two other recent executions that went awry: In January, an Ohio inmate snorted and gasped for nearly a half hour before dying; in Oklahoma, a man died of a heart attack minutes after prison officials halted his execution because the drugs weren't being administered properly.
Talk with loved ones of their victims, and you'll find some on all sides of the issue.
In Wood's case, Richard Brown questions whether he suffered enough.
"This man conducted a horrifying murder, and you guys are going, 'Let's worry about the drugs,'" said Brown, brother- and son-in-law of Woods' victims, Debra and Eugene Dietz. "Why didn't they give him a bullet? Why didn't we give him Drano?"
Wood died by lethal injection Wednesday for the August 1989 slayings of his estranged girlfriend and her father. But he did not go quietly. About 10 minutes after the drugs began flowing, Wood started gasping. When it had continued for more than an hour, the condemned man's lawyers made a desperate appeal to state and federal courts to halt the execution.
After nearly two hours and what witnesses say were hundreds of gasps, Wood was pronounced dead.
As the accounts played on television, cries of "cruel and unusual punishment" resounded, and calls came down for a nationwide stop to the death penalty. The Dietzes' family lashed out.
"You don't know what excruciating is," said Brown's wife, Jeanne. "What's excruciating is seeing your dad lying there in a pool of blood; seeing your sister lying there in a pool of blood."
Randy Browning was not seeking retribution as he sat in the viewing room on June 26, 2013. He was looking for closure.
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