ARIZONA NEWS

Arizona Supreme Court issues warrant to execute state’s first prisoner since 2014

Apr 5, 2022, 4:59 PM | Updated: 5:00 pm

FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Arizona Department of Corrections shows Clarence Dix...

FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Arizona Department of Corrections shows Clarence Dixon, who was sentenced to death in the 1977 killing of Deana Bowdoin, a 21-year-old Arizona State University student, in Maricopa County. (Arizona Department of Corrections via AP, file)

(Arizona Department of Corrections via AP, file)

PHOENIX — Arizona will plan to execute its first prisoner since 2014 in just over a month after the state’s high court issued an execution warrant on Tuesday, Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced.

The execution warrant was issued for Clarence Dixon, who was sentenced to death for the 1978 killing of Deana Bowdoin, a 21-year-old Arizona State University student. He was convicted for the crime in 2008 after advances in DNA technology identified him as a suspect. He was already serving a life sentence for other crimes.

“I made a promise to Arizona voters that people who commit the ultimate crime get the ultimate punishment,” Brnovich said in a press release. “I will continue to fight every day for justice for victims, their families and our communities.”

Dixon, 66, is scheduled to be executed on May 11.

A schedule that would have led to the execution of both Dixon and another man on death row in the fall was thrown out by the Arizona Supreme Court in July to allow prosecutors to do more testing of the state’s lethal injection drug before seeking the warrants.

Prosecutors asked the state’s high court in June to modify the schedules after it was revealed the shelf life of Arizona’s lethal injection drug was half as long as they previously thought.

The state following the ruling said it has done specialized testing on the pentobarbital to be compounded for the executions and determined its shelf life to be at least 90 days.

Brnovich in January asked the state’s high court to move forward with the execution of both men, with each having exhausted all of their appeals.

Jennifer Moreno, one of Dixon’s attorneys, in a statement said the state has yet to provide any evidence it can reliably determine the beyond-use date of its execution drugs.

“Arizona has a history of problematic executions and has not executed anyone since the horrifically mishandled execution of Joseph Wood in 2014,” Moreno said. “The State has had nearly a year to demonstrate that it will not be carrying out executions with expired drugs but has failed to do so.”

“Under these circumstances, the execution of Mr. Dixon — a severely mentally ill, visually disabled, and physically frail member of the Navajo Nation — is unconscionable.”

Executions in the state were put on hold after death row inmates and the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona filed a lawsuit over Wood’s execution.

Wood’s attorney said the death was botched after the man was given 15 doses of a two-drug combination over two hours on July 23, 2014.

Since the crime occurred before November 1992, Dixon can select either lethal injection or gas.

Frank Atwood, the other man on death row Brnovich seeks an execution warrant for, was found guilty and sentenced to death for the killing of 8-year-old Vicki Lynne Hoskinson in 1984.

There are more than 100 Arizona inmates are on death row, and 20 of those have exhausted all appeals, Brnovich said.

Many of the crimes of those on death row go back decades.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Arizona Supreme Court issues warrant to execute state’s first prisoner since 2014