Joseph Wood III, Arizona


July 23, 2014 1:45 pm EDT

Joseph Rudolph Wood III has been executed by the state of Arizona. Read his story here.

Update: July 23, 2014 2:35 pm EDT

The Arizona Supreme Court has lifted the stay of execution granted to Joseph Wood earlier today, allowing the execution to proceed.

Update: July 23, 2014 1:45 pm EDT

The Arizona Supreme Court issued a stay of execution for Joseph Wood moments before the execution process was scheduled to begin. The stay was granted so that the court can consider his petition for review. Joseph's execution could be carried out later today, if the Arizona Supreme Court lifts the stay of execution.

Update: July 22, 2014 7:30 pm EDT

The Supreme Court of the United States has lifted the stay of execution for Joseph Wood. Joseph was granted a stay of execution late last week by a three-judge panel for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Joseph’s case went before the Supreme Court of the United States after the full 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to rehear the case.

Update: July 21, 2014 8:00 pm EDT

Last week, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, stayed the execution of Arizona inmate Joseph Wood on the grounds that not knowing from where the state obtained its dose of lethal injection drugs and the names and qualifications of the members of the execution team violated Joseph’s First Amendment rights. Arizona appealed the ruling to the entire 9th Circuit Court of Appeal, which refused to consider the case. The state is now appealing to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Update: July 21, 2014 11:15 am EDT


Joseph Rudolph Wood III was scheduled to be executed at 10 am MST, on Wednesday, July 23, 2014, at the Arizona State Prison Complex - Florence - Central Unit, in Florence, Arizona. Joseph has been granted a stay of execution by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Fifty-five-year-old Joseph is convicted of killing 55-year-old Eugene Dietz and his daughter 29-year-old Debra Dietz on August 7, 1989, in Tucson, Arizona. Joseph has spent the past 22 years on Arizona's death row.


Joseph was granted a stay of execution by a 2-1 decision of a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The court ruled that Joseph’s First Amendment right was being violated by the stay because of their refusal to release the origin information about the drugs that will be used to execute him and the names and qualifications of the individuals involved in the execution. This decision is currently being appealed by the state, who argues that there is no First Amendment right to this information.


Joseph alleges that he was raised in a dysfunctional family. His father was an alcoholic and they frequently moved due to military transfers. Joseph had a history of substance abuse, although he was not under any drug or alcohol influence at the time of his crime. Joseph was also known to be impulsive and quick to anger. Prior to his arrest for murder in Arizona, Joseph was arrested in Las Vegas, Nevada, and pled guilty to two counts of assault with a deadly weapon.


Joseph Wood and Debra Dietz began dating in 1984. The relationship was tumultuous, with increasing abusive and violent behavior from Wood. Debra's father Eugene disapproved of Wood as a boyfriend, and frequently refused to allow him to visit Debra while she was working at the family's body shop. Wood and Debra lived together in an apartment which Debra rented because Wood did not have a job.


On the July 4th weekend of 1989, after a fight, Debra attempted to permanently leave Wood. She moved out of the apartment and back in with her parents saying "I don't want any more of this." Following Debra's departure, Wood ransacked and vandalized the apartment, prompting Debra to obtain an order of protection on July 8, 1989. Wood repeatedly ignored this order and continued to try and contact Debra at various locations.


On Monday, August 7, 1989, Debra and her father drove to work together. Wood phoned the shop three times that morning: Debra hung up on him once and Eugene hung up on him twice. Around 8:50 am, Wood entered the shop where Debra, her father Eugene, and six other employees were working. Eugene was on the telephone. Wood waited until Eugene hung up the telephone before approaching him and drawing a revolver. Without saying a word, Wood shot Eugene once in the chest, killing him. Wood smiled. The entire exchange was witnessed by a police officer who noticed Wood acting suspicious when exiting his car. The officer immediately called for backup.


Wood left the front area of the shop, but quickly returned, pointing the gun once again at Eugene. Another employee, Eugene's 70-year-old brother attempted to stop Wood, but was unsuccessful. He ran to warn Debra, who was in another part of the shop. Debra had heard from another employee that her father had been shot and was attempting to contact the police. Wood grabbed Debra around the neck and placed his gun against her chest. Debra screamed "No, Joe, don't!" An employee testified that Wood responded "I told you I was going to do it, I have to kill you." Debra was shot twice in the chest, killing her.


Upon leaving the shop, Wood found several police officers waiting for him. Wood originally dropped his weapon as ordered, but picked it up again and began aiming it towards the officers. Wood was shot several times. He was taken to a local hospital, where he underwent surgery.


Wood was convicted on July 2, 1991. Wood never denied murdering Eugene and Debra, however, he insisted it was not premeditated. Prior to the murder, Wood left several messages on Debra's answering machine such as "Debbie, I'm sorry I have to do this. I hope somebody will understand when we're not around no more. I do love you babe. I'm going to take you with me," causing doubt in Wood's insistence that the murders were spontaneous.


Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Eugene and Debra Dietz. Please pray for strength for the family of Joseph Wood. Please pray that Joseph may come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already.



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