A death row inmate convicted of murdering a young girl nearly 40 years ago has been executed in Arizona.
Frank Atwood, 66, was found guilty of murdering eight-year-old Vicki Lynne Hoskinson, whose body was found in the desert northwest of Tucson nearly seven months after she disappeared in 1984.
He died shortly after 10:15 a.m. local time in the state prison in Florence by lethal injection.
Atwood had spent nearly 35 years on death row, exhausting all his appeals.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in a statement, “For an innocent child whose life was brutally taken and for a family that endured decades of suffering, Arizonans will never be forgotten.”
Atwood became the second Arizona prisoner to be executed in less than a month.
The execution of Clarence Dixon in May ended the state moratorium, which was blamed on the difficulty of obtaining lethal injectable drugs and criticism that a 2014 homicide had been botched.
Death penalty opponents now fear that Arizona will “open the floodgates” and begin executing a steady stream of prisoners who have suffered on death row.
State officials are yet to provide details when asked about future execution plans, but Mr Bronovich said: “We will continue to seek justice for every victim.”
Vicki Lynne disappeared while riding her bike home on September 17, 1984 after sending a birthday card. Seven months later, a hiker found her remains in the desert.
Experts could not determine a cause of death, but prosecutors argued he abducted the teen and killed her.
Atwood was convicted in California in 1975 of lewd and lewd behavior with a child under the age of 14, which authorities said was an aggravating factor that put him under consideration for the death penalty.
Vicki Lynne’s mother, Debbie Carlson, observed the execution and told reporters after Atwood’s death that “today is the final justice for our daughter.”
She said, “Our family has waited 37 years, eight months and 22 days for this day to come.”
Ms Carlson described her daughter as “a vivacious little girl with an infectious laugh and a smile that would melt your heart”.
She added: “Her royal blue eyes reflected an ancient soul of wisdom and her freckled nose was one of a kind and we are blessed to see her with our grandchildren today.
“Vicki was a feisty little girl who always kept you on your toes and will forever be known as Dennis the Menace, giggling the whole time.”
But Joseph Perkovich, one of Atwood’s attorneys, said in a statement that his client’s execution did not resolve what he felt were unanswered questions about the case.
“The state of Arizona executed Frank Atwood despite persistent doubts about his guilt,” he said. “The case against Frank was purely circumstantial and important evidence pointed to another suspect.”
Prosecutors alleged that Atwood was attempting to indefinitely delay his execution.
They had argued that he would suffer excruciatingly if he was strapped to the stretcher on his back because he had a degenerative spinal disease.
But authorities said his pain was relieved by propping him up with a pillow on the stretcher, which has a tilting function.
He refused a last meal, said he was fasting, and wore the black skull-cap of his Greek Orthodox religion with a red cross on it, along with a black cross around his neck.
Bud Foster, a KOLD-TV journalist who saw Atwood’s execution and witnessed others, said, “It was probably the most peaceful of all the executions I have witnessed.”
The medical staff who prepared him initially struggled to locate a vein in Atwood’s right arm to insert an IV, but inserted it into his right hand at Atwood’s suggestion, said Henry Brean, a reporter for the Arizona Daily Star who was another witness to the execution.
Dixon was executed on May 11 for his conviction in the 1978 murder of Deana Bowdoin, a 21-year-old Arizona State University student.
His execution was criticized by capital punishment experts because it took officers about 30 minutes to insert an IV to administer the deadly drug and 10 minutes after that to die.
They said executions should last seven to 10 minutes from the start of the IV insertion process to the moment the prisoner is pronounced dead.
The execution team first tried and failed to insert an IV into Dixon’s left arm before being able to connect it to his right arm. Then they made an incision in his groin for another line.
Dixon’s execution was the first in the state 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://metro.co.uk/2022/06/09/frank-atwood-death-row-inmate-executed-for-murdering-young-girl-16796741/ Frank Atwood: Death row inmate executed for murder of young girl