PHOENIX – An Arizona prisoner made a last-minute request to the US Supreme Court to postpone his execution scheduled for Wednesday for his conviction in the 1984 murder of an 8-year-old girl.
Frank Atwood made the motion Tuesday after a lower court rejected his arguments that the execution should be called off because his degenerative spinal condition would cause him excruciating pain to be strapped on his back to the stretcher he was on during of the lethal injection will lie.
Atwood’s attorneys told the Supreme Court in the court filings that the aggravating factor that allowed the death penalty for his crime was invalid. He was convicted in California in 1975 of lewd and lewd behavior with a child under the age of 14 and in 1987 of the murder of Vicki Hoskinson.
Atwood is scheduled to be fatally injected with pentobarbital Wednesday at the state penitentiary in Florence, Arizona, for his conviction in the girl’s murder.
The execution would be Arizona’s second in less than a month, after an eight-year hiatus attributed to both the difficulty in obtaining needed lethal injection drugs and criticism that a 2014 execution was botched.
Anti-death penalty opponents fear Arizona will now begin executing a steady stream of prisoners languishing on death row, but state officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on their future execution schedule, and no more are planned at this time. Arizona has 112 death row prisoners, including Atwood.
Earlier Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied a motion to stay Atwood’s execution.
In addition to arguing that Atwood would suffer while strapped to the stretcher, his attorneys questioned whether the state complied with a requirement that the expiration date of the deadly injectable drug be after the execution date.
And while he did not choose lethal gas as his method of execution, his attorneys nonetheless questioned the state’s procedural protocol for executions in gas chambers.
The appeals court said in its decision it was deferring it to a lower-court judge, who concluded that precautions taken by the state — the use of a cushion and a tilting feature on the stretcher to support Atwood to relieve his pain – prevented a corresponding decision. The lethal injection protocol carries the risk of severe pain.
The Court of Appeals also concluded that Atwood has no legal standing to challenge the death gas protocol since he will be executed by lethal injection.
Prosecutors said Atwood was trying to indefinitely delay his execution through judicial maneuvers.
Atwood’s attorneys said he would suffer for a long time before the deadly drug was injected.
In a statement, Atwood attorney Joseph Perkovich said the lethal injection procedure “will intentionally inflict extreme pain, which will likely take an hour before, at best, he succumbs to the execution chemicals.”
Authorities said Atwood kidnapped Hoskinson, whose remains were discovered in the desert northwest of Tucson nearly seven months after she disappeared. Experts could not determine the cause of death from the remains, according to court records.
Atwood claims he is innocent.
Last month, Atwood refused to choose between lethal injection or the gas chamber and had him executed by lethal injection, the state’s standard method of execution.
Although he did not choose the gas chamber, Atwood questioned Arizona’s lethal gas procedures.
His attorneys said Atwood had the right to choose between constitutional methods of execution and suggested the state switch its deadly gas from hydrocyanic acid gas to nitrogen gas because nitrogen would cause painless deaths. Arizona prosecutors say executions with nitrogen are “untested and untried.”
Atwood’s lawyers said the state’s deadly gas protocol, which calls for the use of hydrogen cyanide gas – used in some previous executions in the US and by Nazis to kill 865,000 Jews at the Auschwitz concentration camp alone – is unconstitutional and would cause excruciating pain at executions .
Arizona, California, Missouri and Wyoming are the only states with decades-old lethal gas execution laws still on the books. Arizona, which carried out the last gas chamber execution in the United States more than two decades ago, is the only state with a functioning gas chamber.
In recent years, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Alabama have enacted laws allowing executions with nitrogen gas under at least certain circumstances, although experts say it has never been done and no state has established a protocol that would allow it.
On May 11, Arizona executed Clarence Dixon for his conviction in the 1978 murder of Deana Bowdoin, a 21-year-old student at Arizona State University.
It was the state’s first execution since the July 2014 execution of Joseph Wood, who was given 15 doses of a two-drug combination over nearly two hours.
Wood repeatedly huffed and gasped before dying. His lawyer said the execution was botched.
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https://www.local10.com/news/national/2022/06/07/arizona-prisoner-asks-supreme-court-to-delay-his-execution/ An Arizona prisoner is asking the Supreme Court to stay his execution