Yesterday’s Execution: Thomas Kemp

An Arizona prisoner was executed yesterday morning for the July 1992 killing of a Tucson college student after robbing him of $200. It was the state’s third execution this year.

In his final statement, 63-year-old Thomas Arnold Kemp simply said: “I regret nothing.”

According to witnesses, he then looked at the ceiling and calmly waited for the execution to begin. The execution took seven minutes, and Kemp’s time of death was 10:08 a.m.

However, after the drugs began to flow, Kemp’s  body visibly shook for several seconds before he went quiet and appeared to fall asleep with a few deep breaths. His attorney, Tim Gabrielsen, said he was “very disturbed” by his client’s shaking and is considering taking action to try to determine if Kemp experienced any pain.

“It was unmistakable,” said Gabrielsen. “He was shaking very violently. We’re very disturbed by that.”

Kemp’s execution was carried out using only one drug, pentobarbital, as opposed to the three-drug cocktail most states use. The additional drugs help paralyze the inmate, masking any movement or pain.

From the Huffington Post:

[Richard] Deiter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said it’s hard to know if Kemp “had a strong adverse reaction” to the pentobarbital.

“Sometimes it depends on the individual,” he said. “Maybe he had an unknown (medical) problem.”

Jonathan Groner, an Ohio State University surgeon who has studied lethal injection extensively, said high doses of pentobarbital are associated with seizures, and that may have caused Kemp’s shaking.

“The problem is the people that give it are not physicians. They try to push it as fast as possible,” Groner said. “It’s nothing anyone would do in a hospital or medical center. It’s not a very good way to kill people.”

Kemp was sentenced to death in 1993 for, with an accomplice, kidnapping 25-year-old Hector Soto Juarez from outside Juarez’s Tucson apartment. Kemp and his partner robbed Juarez before taking him into the desert and shooting him twice in the head.

Earlier this month, Kemp became the first inmate in recent history to decline to seek mercy from the Arizona clemency board.

In a letter written March 29, Kemp said such a hearing “provides public humiliation of the prisoner without any chance that the board might actually recommend a commutation.”

Kemp’s last meal contained a bacon cheeseburger, fries, root beer, strawberry ice cream and boysenberry pie.

Read more:

‘I Regret Nothing’: Death-Row Inmate Thomas Arnold Kemp’s Last Words Before Lethal Injection

Arizona Executes Thomas Kemp

Thomas Arnold Kemp’s Execution Disturbs His Attorney

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