Friday, April 9, 2021

Arizona considers two executions after 7 years hiatus

Two longtime inmates on Arizona's death row may soon be the first to be executed in the state since 2014, reported the Arizona Republic. 

Notices of intent to seek warrants of execution have been filed with the Arizona Supreme Court against Frank Atwood, 65, and Clarence Dixon, 65, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced Tuesday.

“Capital punishment is the law in Arizona and the appropriate response to those who commit the most shocking and vile murders,” Brnovich said in a statement. “This is about the administration of justice and ensuring the last word still belongs to the innocent victims who can no longer speak for themselves.”

The Arizona Supreme Court will decide if the Department of Corrections can proceed with the executions, which will occur 35 days after the court's mandate, or order, denying review of their cases. 

Atwood and Dixon have the option to die by lethal injection or gas, according to Arizona law. 

Brnovich asked the court to create a firm briefing schedule before it issues its order to allow the Department of Corrections to comply with execution protocols. 

Brnovich has frequently mentioned Atwood and Dixonin letters he sent to Ducey advocating for the governor to resume executions. Ducey, who oversees Department of Corrections Director David Shinn, has asked the agency to take actions to help resume capital punishment. 

In Arizona's last execution, in 2014, Joseph R. Wood was left snorting and gasping for nearly two hours before he died from a controversial drug cocktail. Arizona faced lawsuits and also had trouble gaining access to approved lethal drugs.

There are 115 people on Arizona's death row, and 20 have exhausted their appeals

Of those inmates who have exhausted their appeals, two are Hispanic, three are Native American, 15 are white and one did not provide his ethnicity.

They have convictions out of Maricopa, Pima, Mohave, Yavapai and Pinal counties. Two men are brothers, and another man's sibling also was on death row until he died of an illness.

Atwood is white, and Dixon is a member of the Navajo Nation. 

Even though some death row inmates have exhausted their appeals, all are able to submit a commutation application to the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency.

According to Arizona law, the governor is only able to consider a pardon or commutation of a sentence if the clemency board has offered a recommendation. 

The board never has issued a recommendation to pardon or commute a sentence of a person on death row, according to the American Bar Association.

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