A convicted murder endured "three hours of pain" in what might be the longest execution of all time in the United States.
Joe Nathan James Jr. was administered the lethal injection at an Alabama prison on July 29 and was pronounced dead at 9.27pm after nearly three hours.
While officials first claimed there was "nothing out of the ordinary" about the killing, which was due to take place at 6pm that day, they later admitted executioners had difficulties during the execution.
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And an autopsy later revealed several puncture wounds and slices as James "struggled and had to be sedated".
Officials claimed the hold-up was caused after the executioners experienced trouble establishing the intravenous lines carrying the lethal drugs into the body of James Jr. who killed his former girlfriend nearly 30 years ago.
Human rights organisation Reprieve US later claimed that an autopsy and sources from a recent report from the Atlantic had shown the lethal injection procedure had begun long before media witnesses were admitted at around 9.00pm.
Now suspicions have arisen that the execution may have been so badly botched that his death could have been the longest in US history.
The autopsy also revealed horrifying puncture wounds, it was reported, as James 'struggled and had to be sedated' during the botched exhibition.
Director of Reprieve US, Maya Foa said: "Subjecting a prisoner to three hours of pain and suffering is the definition of cruel and unusual punishment.
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"States cannot continue to pretend that the abhorrent practice of lethal injection is in any way humane.
"This is the latest example of the extreme lengths states will go to hide the brutal reality of lethal injection because they know the public would oppose it if they found out what was really going on."
The Daily Star has contacted Alabama state prison officials for comment.
James was convicted of murder and sentenced to death after he shot Faith Hall, a former girlfriend nearly 30 years ago.
He gunned down his victim after breaking into her friend's home in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1994, and had his final appeal request denied on Wednesday evening (July 27) before he was executed two days later.
Despite his heinous crime, Ms Hall's relatives had called for mercy – but their plea for the death penalty to be commuted was ignored.
His victim's daughter Toni Melton previously told local outlet 6WBRC: "Taking his life will not bring my mother back.
"This is not justice. This is just another family going through a loss like we did.
"I just feel like we can’t play God. We can’t take a life."
She also stated it would have been "pure torture" for James to have known the date of his death while awaiting his execution on death row.
James’s initial trial found he had stalked Ms Hall after their relationship came to an end before shooting her three times, and two years later he was convicted and sentenced to death.
He was retried in 1999 but his punishment was upheld.
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