Arizona prisoner to die by lethal injection, not gas chamber

Oct 26, 2022, 12:33 PM | Updated: 1:21 pm

FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry shows prisoner Murray Hooper, who is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on Nov. 16, 2022, for his convictions in the 1980 killings of William "Pat" Redmond and Helen Phelps in Phoenix. On Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022, Hooper's attorneys said their client declined to pick an execution method when officials asked him if he wanted to die by lethal injection or gas chamber. (Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry via AP, File)

(Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry via AP, File)

PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona prisoner who is scheduled to be executed in three weeks for two 1980 killings will be put to death by lethal injection, making him the third condemned person to decline lethal gas since the state refurbished the chamber where it carried out the last U.S. execution by gas more than 20 years ago.

Attorneys for Murray Hooper said Wednesday that he declined to pick a method of execution when corrections officials asked him if he wanted to die by lethal injection or the gas chamber. Lethal injection is Arizona’s default execution method when condemned prisoners refuse to make a selection.

His lawyers declined to comment on the method by which he would be executed on Nov. 16 for the killings of William ‘Pat” Redmond and Redmond’s mother-in-law, Helen Phelps.

The last lethal gas execution in the United States was carried out in 1999 in Arizona. The state’s gas chamber at the prison in Florence, southeast of Phoenix, was dormant as Arizona started using lethal injection.

Corrections officials have declined to say why they refurbished the gas chamber and purchased materials to make hydrogen cyanide gas, which was used in some past U.S. executions and at Nazi concentration camps during World War II.

Death penalty experts say the United States switched to lethal injection due to the horrific nature of gas executions, which they say are slow and leave the condemned gasping for breath and thrashing in their restraints while appearing to be in excruciating pain.

Arizona, California, Missouri and Wyoming are the only states with old gas execution laws still on the books. Arizona is the only one that still has a working gas chamber.

Deborah Denno, a Fordham Law School professor who has studied executions for more 25 years, said it’s not unusual for death row prisoners to refuse to complete method-of-execution forms, as condemned people who are depressed and resigned aren’t likely to be focused on how they will be put to death.

“This is not foremost in their minds in the way it may seem to seem to someone not in their position,” Denno said.

Authorities say Redmond and Phelps were killed after Hooper and two other men forced their way into Redmond’s home on Dec. 31, 1980. Redmond’s wife, Marilyn, was shot in the head but survived and testified against Hooper.

Lawyers for Hooper say he is innocent and was in Chicago at the time of the killings.

Two other men, William Bracy and Edward McCall, were convicted in the killings but died before their executions could be carried out.

Authorities say Robert Cruz, who was alleged to have had ties to organized crime, hired Hooper, Bracy and McCall to kill Pat Redmond, who co-owned a printing business. They said Cruz wanted to take over the business and was unhappy that Redmond had rejected his offers to enter several printing contracts with Las Vegas hotels, according to court records. In 1995, Cruz was acquitted of murder charges in both deaths.

Hooper would be the third Arizona prisoner put to death since the state resumed carrying out executions in May following a nearly eight-year hiatus attributed to the difficulty of obtaining lethal injection drugs and criticism that a 2014 execution was botched.

In recent years, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Alabama have passed laws allowing executions with nitrogen gas, at least in some circumstances, though experts say it has never been done and no state has established a protocol that would allow it, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

The last prisoner to be executed in a U.S. gas chamber was Walter LaGrand, the second of two German brothers sentenced to death for killing a bank manager in 1982 in southern Arizona. It took LaGrand 18 minutes to die.

Arizona’s gas chamber refurbishment was condemned internationally, including coverage in Israel and Germany drawing parallels to Holocaust atrocities.

There are 111 prisoners on Arizona’s death row and 22 have exhausted their appeals, according to the state attorney general’s office.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Ed Evans, Democratic West Virginia delegate and retired public school teacher, sits beside a sunken...
Associated Press

Unmarked graves, an ‘ugly history’: W.Va. weighs mine safety

HAVACO, W.Va. (AP) — Mayapple plants sprout in the sunken soil where the bodies lie, their leaves sheltering the unmarked graves like tiny umbrellas. The forgotten burial ground is overrun by four-wheel tire tracks near a path strewn with discarded bottles and other trash. More than a century of overgrowth on this West Virginia hillside […]
9 hours ago
This May 23, 2020, photo shows rental vehicles parked outside a closed Hertz car rental office in s...
Associated Press

Hertz to pay $168 million in bogus theft settlement

Hertz says it will pay approximately $168 million by the end of the year to settle the majority of the lawsuits brought against the rental car company by some of its customers who were wrongly accused of stealing cars they had rented. In April Hertz CEO Stephen Scherr, who took over the role in February, […]
9 hours ago
FILE - Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, speaks during a reception to celeb...
Associated Press

Emhoff to host Jewish leaders for discussion of antisemitism

WASHINGTON (AP) — Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, will host Jewish leaders this week to discuss a rise in antisemitism and efforts to fight hate in the United States. The White House roundtable on Wednesday follows a surge in anti-Jewish vitriol spread by a famous rapper, an NBA star and other […]
9 hours ago
Mary O'Connor addresses reporters during a news conference at the Tampa Police Department headquart...
Associated Press

Tampa police chief resigns over golf cart traffic stop

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The police chief in Tampa, Florida, resigned Monday after using her position to escape a ticket during a traffic stop involving a golf cart driven by her husband. Mary O’Connor submitted her resignation after an internal affairs review found she violated police department policy during the Nov. 12 stop by a […]
9 hours ago
In this courtroom artist sketch, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, a documentary filmmaker and the wife of Ca...
Associated Press

The women at the center of Harvey Weinstein’s LA rape trial

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Prosecutors called 44 witnesses to make their case against Harvey Weinstein, but a jury’s decision at his Los Angeles trial will hinge largely on the testimony of four: the women he is charged with raping or sexually assaulting, all known simply as “Jane Doe” in court. Four more women also testified […]
9 hours ago
FILE - In this image taken from footage provided by the RU-RTR Russian television on Sunday, Dec. 4...
Associated Press

Russia: Mass seal death likely due to oxygen deprivation

MOSCOW (AP) — A top Russian environmental official said Monday that the thousands of dead seals that washed up on Russia’s Caspian Sea coast likely died from oxygen deprivation. Officials in the republic of Dagestan, which has a long coastline on the world’s largest inland body of water, said this week that 2,500 or more […]
9 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
Arizona prisoner to die by lethal injection, not gas chamber