Arizona Carries Out First Execution in 8 Years

Clarence Dixon was convicted of 1978 murder of college student Deana Bowdoin
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 11, 2022 2:11 PM CDT
Arizona Executes First Inmate Since 2014
Charles Keith stands outside the state prison Wednesday, May 11, 2022 in Florence, Ariz.   (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

An Arizona man convicted of killing a college student in 1978 was put to death Wednesday after a nearly eight-year hiatus in the state’s use of the death penalty brought on by an execution that critics say was botched—and the difficulty state officials faced in finding lethal injection drugs. Clarence Dixon, 66, died by lethal injection at the state prison in Florence for his murder conviction in the killing of 21-year-old Arizona State University student Deana Bowdoin, making him the sixth person to be executed in the US in 2022, the AP reports.

In the final weeks of his life, Dixon’s lawyers made last-minute arguments to the courts to postpone his execution, but judges rejected his argument that he wasn’t mentally fit to be executed and didn't have a rational understanding of why the state wanted to execute him. The US Supreme Court rejected a last-minute delay of Dixon’s execution less than an hour before his execution began. Dixon had declined the option of being killed in the gas chamber—a method that hasn’t been used in the US in more than two decades—after Arizona refurbished its gas chamber in late 2020. Instead, he was executed with an injection of pentobarbital.

Dixon was already serving a life sentence for sexual assault when he was linked to Bowdoin's killing. Authorities said Bowdoin, who was found dead in her apartment in the Phoenix suburb of Tempe, was raped, stabbed, and strangled with a belt. The last time Arizona executed a prisoner was in July 2014, when Joseph Wood was given 15 doses of a two-drug combination over two hours in an execution that his lawyers said was botched. Wood snorted repeatedly and gasped more than 600 times before he died. Another Arizona death-row prisoner, Frank Atwood, is scheduled to be executed on June 8 in the killing of 8-year-old Vicki Lynne Hoskinson in 1984. (His lawyers have asked for death by firing squad to be made an option.)

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