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U.S. Supreme Court lifts stay of execution for Arizona inmate

By David Schwartz

PHOENIX (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday vacated a stay of execution for an Arizona inmate who had sued the state demanding more information about the drugs that will be used in the lethal injection procedure he faces.

Joseph Wood 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 violated their constitutional rights.

Wood, 55, had been slated to be put to death on Wednesday for killing his ex-girlfriend and her father in 1989 at an automotive body shop in Tucson.

But on the weekend the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put the execution on hold, saying 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. [ID:nL2N0PV01U]

On Tuesday, an application by Arizona's attorney general was granted by the Supreme Court, vacating the stay put in place by the lower appellate court.

He is set to executed at 10 a.m. local time on Wednesday inside the state prison complex in Florence, about 60 miles (97 km) southeast of Phoenix, officials at Arizona's Department of Corrections said.

Wood's attorney Dale Baich said the people of Arizona have decided the death penalty is an appropriate punishment.

"They should equally decide that the death penalty cannot remain shrouded in secrecy that prevents citizens from obtaining basic information about the execution process," Baich said.

(Additional reporting and writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Peter Cooney and Eric Walsh)

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