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Board denies mercy for Arizona death-row inmate

PHOENIX – An almost entirely new clemency board voted unanimously to deny
an Arizona death-row inmate’s request for mercy on Friday.

The board could have recommended that Gov. Jan Brewer reduce inmate Samuel
Villegas Lopez’s death sentence to life in prison.

The board declined to make that recommendation after hearing more than five
hours of arguments from attorneys and family members of Lopez’s victim,
59-year-old Estafana Holmes of Phoenix.

Lopez was convicted of brutally raping and killing Holmes in 1986 during a
prolonged fight for her life during which she was raped, stabbed 23 times and
had her throat slit.

The clemency hearing was held even as Lopez’s attorney maintained her objection
that the board was improperly appointed by Brewer and prejudiced against her

Lopez’s execution is set for Wednesday.