By Alexis Young / NewsBreak Pinal County, AZ
The man convicted of the kidnapping and murder of 8-year-old Vicki Lynne Hoskinson, Frank Atwood, was executed by lethal injection in Florence state prison at 10:16 a.m., Wednesday morning.
Similar to the events of Clarence Dixon’s execution last month, AZCentral revealed that Atwood’s attorneys made eleventh-hour claims of cruel and usual punishment due to back pain from a spinal condition that left Atwood wheelchair-bound. Joseph Perkovich said Atwood would feel pain lying down on the gurney, and the state granted the use of a device that would brace Atwood for the gurney.
Media witnesses Lupita Murillo from News 4, Henry Breen from Arizona Daily Star, and Bud Foster from KOLD news shared different accounts of Atwood’s discomfort with AZCentral.
According to Breen, Atwood never complained about back pain, only a tight restraint on his left hand that was then loosened. Breen additionally detailed what he recalled as one of the only sounds in the witness room — Rachel Atwood, Atwood’s wife, mourning her husband’s life as he reportedly smiled at her many times during his execution process.
In Atwood’s final moments, Breen told AZCentral that Atwood made state history as the first death row inmate to request a spiritual advisor at their execution. As Breen described the scene, it is essential to note that Atwood converted to the Greek Orthodox Church, according to multiple news outlets. Atwood toiled with policies surrounding his access to spiritual advisers.
According to court documents, “Atwood asserts that Defendants are ‘refusing to allow [him] to do two things that are important parts of [his] exercise religion [sic]: a tonsure ceremony that includes the ability to interact fully, and the placement of the stole on his head during last rites.’”
Atwood was ultimately granted adviser, Father Paisois, Abbott of the St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery — yet both had to adhere to protocols outlined in the emergency preliminary injunction.
“ADCRR shall provide Plaintiff’s spiritual advisor with electric clippers to perform the tonsure. ADCRR shall allow the spiritual advisor to recite prayers, place ceremonial garments on Plaintiff, trim a lock of Plaintiff’s hair, and bring an assistant (an additional priest from St. Anthony’s monastery, whose name will be submitted at least one week prior to the execution), with his traditional vestments, to serve as a chanter during the tonsure. ADCRR shall also allow Plaintiff’s spiritual advisor to bring in a ceremonial vestment to be worn by Plaintiff for the tonsure, and Plaintiff will be permitted to wear this vestment during the ceremony. Permissible elements of this vestment shall be limited to an outer garment/robe (“zostiko”), short vest (“kondo”), covering made of thin cords woven into crosses (“polystavros”), hat (“Skoufos”), veil (“Koukouli”), scapular (“Great Schema”), belt, and shoes. ADCRR shall also permit Plaintiff’s spiritual advisor to lay hands on Plaintiff’s head, place a garment across Plaintiff’s head, shoulders, and/or torso, and anoint Plaintiff with oil during the tonsure ceremony.”
Breen narrated a scene that seemingly aligned with the injunction. Both Father Paisios and Atwood wore skufo’s as Paisos placed an epitrachelion and medallion on top of Atwood's head.
AZCentral says Arizona Department of Corrections Deputy Director Frank Strada said Atwood was administered a sedative at 10:10 a.m. and was deceased at 10:16 a.m.
Media witnessed Murillo said the ordeal was very peaceful, telling AZCentral, “‘he just took a couple of breaths, and at one point it was like he was snoring.’”
At the news conference, Debbie Carlson, Vicki Lynne Hoskinson’s mother, illustrated the life of the spirited and lively little soul taken from her.
CBSNews quoted Carlson: "Her royal blue eyes reflected an old soul of wisdom, and her freckled nose was unique, and we are blessed to see it in our grandchildren today. Vicki was a feisty little one that always kept you on your toes and will forever be known as Dennis the menace, giggling all the way."
According to her mother, Vicki’s family waited 37 years and 22 days for justice.
There are now 111 inmates on death row in Arizona.