Arizona executes first death row inmate since 2014

A Native American man sentenced to death in 2008 for the 2008 murder of a student 30 years earlier was executed in the southwestern US state of Arizona on Wednesday, who had not carried out an execution since 2014.

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Clarence Dixon, a 66-year-old member of the Navajo Nation, was pronounced dead at 10:30 a.m. local time or 5:30 p.m. GMT after receiving a lethal injection at Florence State Prison, the services said in a statement.

In January 1978, he stabbed, strangled, and raped a 21-year-old college student, Deana Bowdoin, in Tempe, days after she was found not guilty of an assault based on her mental state.

Sentenced to life imprisonment in 1986 for sexual assault, thanks to DNA analyzes he was mistaken for the student’s death.

“Maybe I’ll see you on the other side, Deana. I don’t know you and I don’t remember you,” he said before the sentence was handed down, according to a witness quoted by the local press.

His lawyers had appealed several times, arguing that their blind client, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, did not understand why he had been sentenced to death.

Mr. Dixon “lives in his head, he lives in parallel realities,” his attorney Eric Zuckerman said Tuesday during a hearing before a San Francisco appeals court that dismissed his appeal.

The US Supreme Court on Wednesday denied a permanent stay motion filed hours before the execution.

Arizona resumed executions by lethal injection after an 8-year hiatus when an inmate had been in agony for two hours and was seized with convulsions after being injected with 15 doses of lethal products.

Doubts about the legality of this protocol – suspected of inflicting illegal suffering on those convicted – and drug companies’ refusal to supply these products have led to a significant drop in the country’s use of the death penalty.

Authorities in this conservative state — which has 112 convicts on death row — have also authorized executions by lethal gas in a gas chamber.

They planned to use hydrocyanic acid, the main ingredient in Zyklon B, a gas associated with the Holocaust.

On May 3, the Arizona Supreme Court gave another death row inmate fifteen days to choose between lethal injection or inhalation of deadly gas. Frank Atwood, convicted of murdering an eight-year-old girl in 1987, is scheduled to be executed on June 8.

Clarence Dixon had also had two weeks to request the gas chamber to avoid lethal injection. His silence was worth accepting the second option.

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