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Arizona death row prisoner to be executed by lethal injection

Dixon is scheduled to be executed on May 11 for the 1978 rape and murder of Arizona State...
Dixon is scheduled to be executed on May 11 for the 1978 rape and murder of Arizona State University student Deana Bowdoin.(Arizona's Family)
Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 8:33 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- A prisoner scheduled to be executed in what would be Arizona’s first use of the death penalty in nearly eight years won’t be put to death in the gas chamber. Clarence Dixon declined to pick a method of execution when officials asked if he wanted to die by lethal injection or the gas chamber. That means he will be executed by lethal injection, the default method. It’s been more than two decades since a gas chamber was used to kill an inmate in the United States. Dixon is scheduled to be executed on May 11 for the 1978 rape and murder of Arizona State University student Deana Bowdoin.

Since 1999, there have been 35 executions by lethal injection in the United States. Arizona’s last lethal injection execution was carried out more than seven years ago when Joseph Wood III was executed at Florence State Prison. It lasted more than two hours and his lawyers have referred to it as a “botched” execution since it appeared he gasped for air and convulsed during the last 25 minutes.

The last lethal gas execution in the U.S. was carried out in Arizona in 1999 when Walter LaGrand was executed by gas chamber. Walter and his brother, Karl-Heinz, were convicted of stabbing and killing a man during a bank robbery in Marana 17 years prior. Karl-Heinz was executed by lethal injection, and Walter was executed by lethal gas. There have been 37 executions by gas chamber since 1999 in the United States.

Arizona refurbished its gas chamber in 2020 at Florence prison. The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Phoenix and the Arizona ACLU previously filed a lawsuit against the Arizona Department of Corrections to prevent the use of cyanide gas in executions. The lawsuit stated the use of gas violated the protection against cruel and unusual punishment in the Consitution. The refurbishment drew an outcry of controversy due to the history of gas chambers, dating back to the Holocaust during World War II.

Arizona, California, Missouri and Wyoming are the only states with decades-old lethal-gas execution laws still on the books. Arizona is the only one that still has a working gas chamber. Arizona has 112 prisoners on death row.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.