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Arizona Supreme Court Sets Execution Warrant Briefing Schedules For 2 Death Row Prisoners

The Arizona Supreme Court has set timetables for the state to make its case for conducting the first executions in seven years.

The court granted requests from Attorney General Mark Brnovich to set briefing schedules for pursuing warrants of execution for prisoners Frank Atwood and Clarence Dixon.

Attorneys for Atwood previously  asked the Supreme Court to deny the attorney general's request to set the briefing schedule, citing an ongoing appeal and what they called "unanswered questions" in the case.

Assistant Federal Public Defender Dale Baich, an attorney for Dixon, requested the Supreme Court postpone the ruling on the attorney general’s request for an execution timetable until the fall.

In their recent orders, the Supreme Court denied those requests.

After the attorney general files the motions seeking the warrants, responses from defense attorneys and replies to those responses will be due to the court by Aug. 11 for Atwood and Sept. 2 for Dixon.

Arizona Supreme Court spokesperson Aaron Nash said if the court issues the warrants, "then that moves to that next step that’s in statute, authorizing the director of the Department of Corrections to schedule the execution within 35 days.”

In response to the state supreme court setting the briefing schedule, Atwood attorney Joseph Perkovich said "much more needs to be learned about the compounded pharmaceuticals Arizona plans to use in the numerous executions the Attorney General has stated he expects to carry out."

"The state of Arizona’s abysmal track record requires meaningful scrutiny of its plan," Perkovic said. "But, so far, the state judiciary has shown no regard for the gravity of the power that the Attorney General intends to exercise.”

Dixon was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1978 killing of Deana Bowdoin, a 21-year-old Arizona State University student.

Atwood was convicted in Pima County 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.

According to the attorney general, there are currently 115 prisoners on Arizona’s death row and approximately 20 have exhausted all appeals.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jimmy Jenkins is a senior field correspondent at KJZZ and a contributor to NPR’s Election 2020 and Criminal Justice station collaborations. His work has been featured on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace, Here and Now, The Takeaway and NPR Newscasts.Originally from Terre Haute, Indiana, Jenkins has a B.S. in criminology from Indiana State University and a master’s degree in journalism from Indiana University.Much of his reporting has focused on the criminal justice system. Jenkins has reported on Tasers, body cameras, use of force, jail privatization, prison health care and the criminal contempt trial of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.