Sister of 2002 murder victim wants Gov. Hobbs to follow law, carry out death penalty

Mar 17, 2023, 9:11 AM | Updated: 9:15 am
(Photo by Getty Images)...
(Photo by Getty Images)
(Photo by Getty Images)

PHOENIX — The sister of a 2002 murder victim is speaking out against Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs’ decision to halt death penalty executions, claiming the governor is violating one law while attempting to ensure the validity of another.

“What [Hobbs] did was vow that under her administration, an execution would not occur until she has confidence that the state was not violating the law,” Karen Price told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Gaydos and Chad Show on Thursday.

“But ironically, in ensuring that one law was not violated, she effectively is violating another law.”

Aaron Gunches is on death row after pleading guilty in 2004 to murdering Price’s brother, Ted Price. Gunches was sentenced to death in 2008 and again in 2013 after the Arizona Supreme Court found an error in the first sentencing proceeding.

Earlier this month, the state’s high court issued an execution warrant for Gunches for April 6, but Hobbs said the state has no intention of carrying it out.

“Some of the misconceptions are that the governor has said that she’s pausing executions,” Price said.

“But in the case of Gunches, she hasn’t paused the execution because that would infer that there’s some date on which she intends to execute him, and that has not occurred.”

Hobbs maintains that the warrant only “authorizes” the execution but “does not require it.”

Price submitted a petition for special action last week asking the Arizona Supreme Court to direct Hobbs to carry out the execution warrant.

“We were shocked when Hobbs just unilaterally said, ‘I’m not going to execute this man,'” she said.

For Price and her family, seeing the execution carried out is about seeing it through to the end.

“It’s not the same as if you lose your father to cancer or your sister to a heart attack … because even though the murder is a single point in time, the aftermath continues until the final sentence is carried, out and that’s what my family wants — finality,” Price said.

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Sister of 2002 murder victim wants Gov. Hobbs to follow law, carry out death penalty