Arizona inmate withdraws death penalty request, citing execution struggles

Jan 5, 2023, 5:00 PM | Updated: 6:02 pm
(Pexels Photo)...
(Pexels Photo)
(Pexels Photo)

PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona death row inmate has withdrawn his request to be executed.

In a handwritten motion dated Wednesday and addressed to the Arizona Supreme Court, Aaron Gunches cited three recent executions that were “carried out in a manner that amounts to torture” and saying Arizona Department of Corrections execution team members struggled to insert IV lines during the lethal injection process.

“For the Arizona Supreme Court to issue an execution warrant under the current conditions amounts to court ordered cruel and unusual punishment, which simply cannot be allowed,” Gunches wrote.

Gunches also said he would have not asked to be executed if he had known newly elected Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes was possibly going to delay executing inmates.

Mayes has said the state needs to take some time to ensure the death penalty is handled “legally and correctly.”

“AG Mayes is acting in a responsible manner with an ethical and moral obligation, not only to the AG’s office but to the laws of Arizona,” Gunches said in his motion.

Gunches, 51, was originally sentenced to death in 2008 after being convicted of fatally shooting his girlfriend’s ex-husband six years earlier.

He filed a motion in November asking the state Supreme Court to issue a death warrant for him, saying he wanted justice to “be lawfully served and give closure to the victim’s family.”

Last month, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office requested the state’s high court to issue a warrant of execution for Gunches who is one of 21 death row inmates who have exhausted their appeals.

The state has 110 inmates on death row and had three executions last year.

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Arizona inmate withdraws death penalty request, citing execution struggles