Daughter of 2002 murder victim on Hobbs halting executions: It’s ‘traumatizing to my family’

Mar 24, 2023, 4:35 AM

PHOENIX — The daughter of 2002 murder victim Ted Price said Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs’ decision to halt prisoner execution is traumatizing her family as they expected Price’s killer to be executed next month.

“What she’s doing is extremely, emotionally traumatizing to my family,” Brittney Price told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Gaydos and Chad Show on Thursday.

“We’ve waited this long, we’ve been this patient … we didn’t want to go down without a fight because we shouldn’t have to be fighting for something that he (Aaron Gunches) was sentenced to twice and he wants it. He requested it.”

A warrant for the execution of Gunches was issued by the Arizona Supreme Court on March 2, but Hobbs vowed to not carry out the execution pending a review of the death penalty process, which she ordered on Jan. 20 because of the state’s history of executions that were allegedly mishandled.

“I don’t understand why she had to wait for the Supreme Court to grant it. I don’t know why she didn’t make this announcement before. Did she really have to wait until my aunt Karen, my family and I got the answer we wanted and then kicked us in the stomach, really, within 24 hours?” Price asked.

On Wednesday, the state’s highest court said that Hobbs is not obligated to carry out the execution warrant, which had been set for April 6. The ruling followed a motion filed by a lawyer for Karen Price, whose brother was the victim in Gunches’ case, asking that the governor be ordered to carry out the execution.

“I feel like the last three months have been the most excruciating on my family and I, instead of the last 20 years. It’s been a very back and forth roller coaster and it’s just been very emotionally all over the place,” Price said.

“Because now I feel like with the governor putting executions on hold, we’re going to be back here when she’s not the governor anymore if nothing happens and if we can’t get what we want.”

Arizona carried out three executions last year after a nearly eight-year hiatus which surfaced from criticism that a 2014 execution was botched and because of difficulties obtaining execution drugs.

But since the state began resuming executions, it’s been criticized for taking too long to insert an IV for lethal injection and for denying the Arizona Republic newspaper’s request to witness the last three executions.

Brittney said the execution of Gunches wouldn’t equate to closure — she just wants it to be over, in hopes her and her family can begin healing again.

“It’s not so much closure. I feel like my family and I are just done talking about it and the minute the execution is processed, he’s just gone. This just ends. It doesn’t have to be brought up a year or two from now,” Price said.

“My dad was a fun guy. My brother and I didn’t really get to have a childhood with him, so we were looking forward to making up that time as adults, and that was taken from us the day he took my father’s life.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story. 

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Daughter of 2002 murder victim on Hobbs halting executions: It’s ‘traumatizing to my family’