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U.S. court denies bid to reconsider stay of Arizona execution

By David Schwartz

PHOENIX (Reuters) - A federal appeals court on Monday rejected a bid by Arizona to remove a block that stops the state executing a double murderer until he is provided with more information about the drugs to be used to put him to death.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the state's request for the full court to review the case of Joseph Wood, who had been slated to be executed on Wednesday for killing his ex-girlfriend and her father in 1989 at an automotive body shop in Tucson.

On Saturday a three-member panel of the court put the execution on hold, saying Wood was entitled to the information about the lethal injection procedure and had raised "serious questions" that his rights were being violated.

In a 2-1 decision, the panel said the 55-year-old Wood could suffer "irreparable harm" if the information were not disclosed by the state about the drugs to be used and the qualifications of the medical staff to be involved.

    A spokeswoman for Arizona's attorney general said the state planned to file an application later on Monday with U.S. Supreme Court in an attempt to lift the stay.

Wood's attorney Dale Baich said Monday's decision was a victory in the nationwide discussion about the death penalty.

"Without greater transparency from the state, it's impossible for the public to engage in informed debate," said Baich, a federal public defender, in a statement.

"We look forward to Arizona's compliance with this ruling."

    Wood was convicted in 1991 of walking into the body shop and shooting and killing Gene Dietz, 55, the father of his estranged girlfriend. He then proceeded to another part of the shop and fatally shot former girlfriend Debbie Dietz, 29.

    He is one of six death row inmates who sued Arizona last month arguing that secrecy surrounding lethal-injection drugs used in botched executions in Ohio and Oklahoma violates their constitutional rights.

(Reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Eric Walsh)

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