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Arizona Supreme Court Postpones Executions Sought By Attorney General

After the state revised the use-by date of its lethal injection drugs, the Arizona Supreme Court postponed the first potential executions in Arizona in seven years. 

On Monday the Supreme Court denied the state attorney general’s request to shorten the execution warrant briefing schedules for Clarence Dixon and Frank Atwood and vacated their briefing schedules.

The ruling comes after the Department of Corrections  backtracked on the shelf life of its compounded pentobarbital. At first, a pharmacist working for the state estimated 90 days, then revised the use-by date to 45 days. The state is still awaiting additional testing on the drugs.

The new use-by date would not have allowed the state enough time to request an execution warrant, test the lethal injection drugs, and conduct the executions.

Attorneys for Dixon say the ruling will prevent Arizona from pursuing an execution "until it can do so without violating his state and federal rights."

Atwood Attorney Joseph Perkovich said the ruling would "afford Arizona the time to establish the adequacy of its compounded pentobarbital for its intended purpose."

In response to the ruling, Attorney General's Office spokesperson Katie Conner said "Attorney General Brnovich will continue to fight for victims and their families. Too often we focus on the convicted killers in these cases even after they exhausted all their appeals. Justice delayed is justice denied.”

Dixon was sentenced to death for the killing of 21-year-old college student Deana Bowdoin in 1978. Atwood was sentenced to death in the 1984 killing of 8-year-old Vicki Lynn Hoskinson.

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.