Florence, AZ

In the wake of Dixon execution, Florence State Prison inmate Frank Atwood forgoes method-of-death choice

Alexis Young

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By Alexis Young / NewsBreak Pinal County, AZ

(Pinal Count, AZ) — In Florence state prison, Clarence Wayne Dixon was executed Wednesday, May 11, 2022, by lethal injection — the default method when inmates waive the right to choose their cause of death. Dixon forwent his decision and so has Frank Atwood.

Two sides of the same execution

Dixon and Atwood shared similar convictions; where Dixon was convicted for the rape and murder of 21-year-old Deana Bowdoin, and Atwood with several pedophilic charges on his rap sheet was convicted of the kidnapping and murder of an 8-year-old Vicki Lynne Hoskinson. In 1984, less than a year before Dixon was convicted of the crime that led to his 2002 indictment in the Bowdoin case, Atwood allegedly kidnapped and murdered Vicki. The child’s remains were found in the Tucson desert, six months after her demise on September 17.

Like Dixon, Atwood was convicted of the crime he’s on death row for after several arrests and releases for comparable but less fatal crimes. Criminologists might point to trends of criminal evolution and escalation. True crime junkies might say their arrests and releases only taught perpetrators not to leave survivors. Perhaps, Atwood’s and Dixon’s last similarity is their almost identical fates.

Just as Dixon spent his last decades on death row given the choice between a needle and a pentobarbital cocktail or suffocation by Zyklon B cyanide gas, so will Atwood. NewsBreak reported on the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehab and Reentry’s difficulty with procuring lethal injection drugs legally, $1.5 million purchase of pentobarbital despite prison closing, refurbished(2020) gas chambers, their purchase of cyanide gas ingredients and the reprimanding outcry from Phoenix to Germany to Israel.

What remains to be seen, is whether or not Atwood’s execution will garner the same controversy. Dixon was a Navajo man diagnosed with visual impairments and schizophrenia. ADCRR’s established history with Eighth Amendment violation cases, previously botched executions, Dixon’s disabilities, tribal traditions and government created an interesting microscope around Bowdoin’s justice and Dixon’s penalty.

Navajo Times and Indian County reported on Dixon’s life and crimes in ways that align with their beliefs on life and its sanctity. In reports, Dixon’s alleged crimes were clearly defined but Navajo Nation does not adhere to the death penalty in federal cases. This is an example of tribal sovereignty. Navajo Nation and The Death Penalty Information Center said sovereignty was ignored during Lezmond Mitchell’s execution.

AZCentral quoted a letter from Navajo Nation Attorney General Doreen McPaul on the subject.

"’ Navajo culture and religion holds every life sacred and instructs against the taking of human life for punishment,’” McPaul said. "’ Committing a crime not only disrupts the harmony between the victim/family and the perpetrator, but it also disrupts the harmony of the community.’”

Judgement day

ABC News details Dixon’s last words and several of them were directed at the late Deana Bowdoin.

KSAZ media witness Troy Hayden revealed several statements from Dixon’s last statements before the lethal injection was administered.

“‘Maybe I'll see you on the other side, Deana. I don't know you and I don't remember you,’” Dixon said reputedly. “‘I know you're seeing this, Deana. You know I didn't kill you.’”

Despite a last-minute appeal the morning of Dixon’s execution and groups affiliated with Death Penalty Alternatives for Arizona protesting outside Florence prison, The Associated Press claims the entire process took about 25 minutes. Clarence Dixon was pronounced dead by ADCRR Deputy Director, Frank Strada. The AP found the execution on par with state protocols. Though medical professionals were unable to find veins in Dixon’s arm, an incision in his groin allowed the injection to be administered.

1 dead, 113 left on death row

According to ACDRR, there are 112 inmates on Arizona’s death row. Three death row inmates are women. ABC 15 reported 113 inmates on death row including 24 inmates who have exhausted all appeals available to them.

Whether Arizona’s death row holds 112 or 113 inmates, Frank Atwood is scheduled to die on June 8, 2022.

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I found an unexpected comfort and interest in journalism. From storytelling to holding the powerful accountable to the more technical parts of the job, most all of it interests me. I’m using that interest to ignite lights that will illuminate truth.

Phoenix, AZ

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