Here’s what a KTAR News reporter witnessed during Arizona’s first execution since 2014
May 12, 2022, 4:45 AM | Updated: 5:13 pm
PHOENIX — Arizona’s first execution in nearly eight years occurred Wednesday and KTAR News 92.3 FM reporter Taylor Tasler was one of three media witnesses invited to the proceedings.
Clarence Dixon, 66, died by lethal injection at the state prison in Florence for his murder conviction in the 1978 killing of 21-year-old Arizona State University student Deana Bowdoin.
Dixon was the sixth person to be executed in the U.S. in 2022 and first in the state since 2014.
Here’s a first-person account from Tasler on her experience witnessing the execution:
The Department of Corrections came and picked me and the other witnesses up and took us to the jail.
We were taken to a classroom on the jail property.
An hour later, we were moved to another room.
At this point, we were taken through the big gates of the prison and through security.
We were walked to housing unit 9, which is known as the death house.
It was at this time the whole thing became a reality to me that I was about to witness someone die.
I got a bit nauseous thinking about it all.
We entered the execution room, which is very small.
The curtains were opened and we saw Clarence Dixon lying on a gurney.
He was wearing an orange jumpsuit and a sheet was covering him up below his chest.
Dixon looked strictly up at the ceiling.
There were three monitors in the room. Two on the sides showed an aerial view of Dixon’s body and a central one had a close-up view of the syringes that would be used.
There were a total of 23 witnesses.
Only four were in Dixon’s section and two of them appeared to be with the corrections department.
The medical team started working on inserting an IV in Dixon’s left arm, but struggled to find a vein.
He was wincing and shaking his head but never looked at the gallery.
At one point, Dixon said to executioners, “You took a Hippocratic Oath, but this money must be better.”
He also said, “Make sure you miss the first time to teach me a lesson.”
The medical team got an IV in Dixon’s right arm.
Three minutes later, they attached a line to his IV.
After a brief hiatus, the medical team started working on Dixon’s leg.
They were likely inserting a catheter into his groin.
“This is really funny trying to be as [sterile] as possible while trying to kill me,” Dixon said. “How bizarre is that, how twisted is that?”
The catheter insertion took the most time.
The medical team gave him a shot in the groin.
Dixon was in visible pain when it happened.
“I’m sorry you’re watching this Deana,” Dixon said. “You know I didn’t kill you.”
Minutes go by as proceedings continue.
Dixon has a coughing fit for a minute or two.
At this point, the catheter was inserted.
The death warrant is read to Dixon.
He is given a chance to speak his last words.
Dixon speaks a lot about Arizona statues and affirms his innocence.
“I do and always proclaim innocence,” Dixon said. “Now let’s finish this s—.”
The drugs begin to be administered.
Dixon starts tapping his fingers and rolling his eyes, almost in defiance.
“Maybe I’ll see you on the other side, Deana,” Dixon said. “I don’t know you and I don’t remember you.”
Dixon gasps and takes a deep swallow.
There’s no movement from Dixon.
A minute later, another syringe is pushed into him.
The medical team does a physical assessment of Dixon.
They open his mouth and take a Q-tip, swabbing in his eyes.
The warden comes in and says Dixon is sedated.
The warden says the execution is complete and the curtains are closed.
Everyone is ushered out of the room.