Mental fitness of an Arizona prisoner for Judge Moles to be executed | political news

By Jack Belloud, The Associated Press

Phoenix (AFP) – A judge plans to rule Tuesday night on an Arizona prisoner’s request to halt his May 11 execution on the grounds that his psychological problems prevent him from logically understanding why the state wants to end his life.

Lawyers for Clarence Dixon, who would be the first person to be executed in Arizona in nearly eight years, argued Tuesday in a court in Florence, Arizona, that their client’s 1978 murder of 21-year-old college student Diana. Bowdoin would violate the protection against executing mentally incompetent persons.

Dixon’s lawyers say he mistakenly believed he would be executed because police at Northern Arizona University unjustly arrested him in an earlier case — the 1985 attack on a 21-year-old student. His lawyers admit that he was lawfully detained at the time by Flagstaff Police.

Dixon was sentenced to life in prison in that case for sexual assault and other convictions. DNA samples taken while he was in prison later linked Bowdoin’s murder, which was not resolved at that point.

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Prosecutors, who had unsuccessfully tried to get the Arizona Supreme Court to cancel the mental aptitude hearing, said there was nothing about Dixon’s beliefs to prevent him from understanding the reason for the execution and pointed to court filings that Dixon himself had made over the years.

“Regardless of his beliefs, his plea for years has made it clear that his execution is based on his murder conviction and that he understands the connection” between his guilty verdict and his planned execution, Prosecutor Jeffrey Sparks said.

Eric Zuckerman, one of Dixon’s attorneys, said his client’s mental health problems spanned four decades. Zuckerman said Dixon’s thoughts are “tainted by delusions of persecution” and he believes the state wants to kill him to protect lawyers and judges from what he considers an embarrassment in the University of North Carolina case, not for his actions in the Bowdoin murder.

In addition to challenging his mental fitness, Dixon’s lawyers made a new attempt on Tuesday to stop his execution.

They have filed a lawsuit asking a federal judge to delay Dixon’s execution until corrections officials show that the compound pentobarbital for use in execution has been given an expiration date.

About a year ago, prosecutors took steps to demand the execution of Dixon and another death row inmate, but the state Supreme Court suspended the suit over concerns about the expiration date of the drug that would be used in lethal injections.

In the new lawsuit, Dixon’s attorneys said corrections officials gave them heavily redacted records documenting the drug’s testing, but did not provide an exact expiration date.

The Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia on multiple occasions, defense attorneys say Dixon has regularly experienced hallucinations for the past 30 years and was found “not guilty by reason of insanity” in a 1977 assault case in which judgment was rendered by then Maricopa County. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, nearly four years before her appointment to the US Supreme Court. According to court records, Bowdoin was killed two days after the sentencing.

Authorities said Baudouin, who was found dead in her apartment, was raped, stabbed and strangled. Dixon was charged with raping Bowdoin, but the charge was later dropped on the grounds of a statute of limitations. However, he was convicted of her death.

On Tuesday, the Arizona Supreme Court also issued an injunction setting a June 8 date for the execution of another death row inmate, Frank Atwood, in the 1984 murder of 8-year-old Vicki Lynn Hoskinson. Authorities say Atwood kidnapped the girl who was found A corpse in the desert northwest of Tucson.

The last time Arizona used the death penalty was in July 2014, when Joseph Wood received 15 doses of a mixture of two drugs over two hours in an execution his lawyers said was a fiasco.

States, including Arizona, have struggled to purchase execution drugs in recent years after US and European drug companies began to ban their products from being used in lethal injections.

Arizona has 113 inmates on death row.

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