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Arizona Plans To Seek Warrants For 1st Executions In Years

Prosecutors have told the Arizona Supreme Court that they intend on soon seeking execution warrants for two death-row inmates in what would be the state’s first executions in almost seven years.

Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office said Tuesday that it’s asking the high court to set a briefing schedule before filing execution warrants for Clarence Dixon and Frank Atwood.

Arizona put executions on hold after the 2014 death of Joseph Wood, who was given 15 doses of a two-drug combination over two hours. His attorney said the execution was botched.

Plus, Arizona and other states have struggled to buy execution drugs in recent years after U.S. and European pharmaceutical companies began blocking the use of their products in lethal injections. Arizona corrections officials revealed a month ago that they had finally obtained a lethal injection drug and were ready to resume executions.

“Capital punishment is the law in Arizona and the appropriate response to those who commit the most shocking and vile murders,” Brnovich said in a statement. “This is about the administration of justice and ensuring the last word still belongs to the innocent victims who can no longer speak for themselves.”

Dixon was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1977 killing of Deana Bowdoin, a 21-year-old Arizona State University student.

“In light of Clarence Dixon’s severe mental illness and debilitating physical disabilities, including blindness, it would be unconscionable for the state of Arizona to execute him,” Dale Baich, one of Dixon’s lawyers, said in a statement.

Atwood was convicted and sentenced to death for killing 8-year-old Vicki Lynn Hoskinson in 1984. Authorities say Atwood kidnapped the girl, whose body was found in the desert northwest of Tucson.

“The state is now attempting to sweep aside the most profound issues that can arise in our legal system, including whether the convicted is actually guilty of the crime and whether death is a morally or legally tenable punishment in the individual’s case,” Joseph Perkovich, one of Atwood’s attorneys, said in a statement.

“Mr. Atwood needs the opportunity to present these issues before the Arizona Supreme Court entertains setting an execution date,” Perkovich said.

Arizona has 115 inmates on death row.

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Jill Ryan joined KJZZ in 2020 as a morning reporter, and she is currently a field correspondent and Morning Edition producer.