Executions · Florida

Man executed for murder, lethal injection botched resulting in severe chemical burns

December 13, 2006
Raiford, Florida
Ángel Nieves Díaz is executed for murder, though his lethal injection is botched leading to his arms being burned by the chemicals

Díaz was convicted of the December 29, 1979 robbery and murder of club owner Joseph Nagy. Most of the club’s employees were locked in a room during the robbery and were unable to see the murder. Though one dancer hid beneath the bar, she was also unable to see the murder. Due to the lack of eyewitnesses, Nagy’s murder remained unsolved until Díaz’s girlfriend informed police he and accomplice Angel “Sammy” Toro has committed the crime. The girlfriend also claimed the two had the help of a still-unidentified third person known only as “Willie.” A matchbox at the murder scene had Díaz’s fingerprints, and he and Toro were arrested.

At trial, Díaz proclaimed his innocence but was nevertheless found guilty and sentenced to death. Toro took a plea deal and received a life sentence.

Díaz continued to claim his innocence until his execution, stating as he was strapped into the gurney: “The state of Florida is killing an innocent person. The state of Florida is committing a crime, because I am innocent. The death penalty is not only a form of vengeance, but also a cowardly act by humans. I am sorry for what is happening to me and my family who have been put through this.”

The team administering the lethal drugs during the execution pushed the IV needles through Díaz’s veins and into the soft tissue in his arms. The drugs, instead of entering Díaz’s blood stream to sedate then kill the condemned man, pooled in his arms creating an 11” x 7” (28cm x 18cm) burn on one arm and a 12” x 5” (30cm x 12.5cm) burn on the other. The chemical burn was severe enough to cause “excessive skin slippage” and was likened by the medical examiner overseeing Díaz’s autopsy to that of a person whose arm had been set on fire.

Díaz was given a second dose of chemicals and died 34 minutes after the first injection. Typically, a lethal injection execution takes 10-15 minutes.

Photos of the chemical burns left on Díaz’s arms can be seen at New Republic (warning: graphic).

Sources:

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