Arizona to carry out first execution in 8 years after death row inmate loses mental fitness case

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Arizona is poised to carry out its first execution in eight years next week after a judge rejected appeals from the inmate’s lawyers arguing he was mentally unfit to be executed.

Inmate Clarence Dixon, 65, was convicted for the 1978 murder of Deana Bowdoin, a 21-year-old student at Arizona State University. He was also charged with raping Bowdoin, but the charge was dropped due to the statute of limitations. Lawyers sought to have Dixon declared unfit for execution by reason of insanity, but Pinal County Superior Court Judge Robert Olson rejected the argument in a Wednesday ruling.

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Dixon first entered prison for sexual assault and other convictions relating to a 1985 attack on another 21-year-old student, according to the Associated Press. Dixon was sentenced to multiple life sentences in the incident, and a DNA test would later connect him to Bowdoin’s murder, the AP reported.

Dixon’s lawyers argued that Bowdoin has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, an argument that spared him from conviction in a 1977 assault case. Dixon murdered Bowdoin two days after that verdict was handed down, however, according to the AP.

The Wednesday ruling is not the final word in the execution, however, as Dixon’s lawyers plan to appeal the decision to the Arizona Supreme Court.

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If carried out, Dixon’s execution would be the first in Arizona since 2014. That execution, of inmate Joseph Wood, was considered botched. He had to be given 15 doses of lethal drugs over the course of two hours before dying.

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