Death row prisoner Frank Atwood requests execution by nitrogen gas
Death row prisoner Frank Atwood is requesting the state execute him within the gas chamber, however with nitrogen gas, versus the cyanide specified within the Arizona Department of Corrections protocols.
Atwood is scheduled to be executed on June 8. He was sentenced to dying in Pima County in 1987 for the homicide of an 8-year-old lady, Vicki Lynne Hoskinson.
Because Atwood’s crimes occurred earlier than the gas chamber was outlawed in Arizona in 1992, he has a alternative between dying by deadly gas or deadly injection.
On background:Who is Frank Atwood? What to learn about Arizona’s subsequent scheduled execution
State regulation requires that Atwood select a technique of execution 20 days previous to the execution, which leaves Atwood’s deadline to decide on as 12:01 a.m. on May 20.
If Atwood doesn’t make a alternative, then the default technique for use by the state is deadly injection.
Atwood’s attorneys have argued each strategies would result in a “torturous” quantity of ache, and subsequently neither are constitutional. They say Atwood is in a wheelchair and suffers from a spinal situation that might trigger him “the maximum level of pain the human brain can process” if he have been strapped to a gurney for deadly injection, pointing to the prolonged quantity of time it takes the Arizona execution groups to insert IVs into dying row prisoners.
More:After buying deadly injection medicine, Arizona struggles to manage them
Attorneys for Clarence Dixon, who was executed by deadly injection on May 11, stated execution members took 40 minutes to insert IVs in Dixon’s arms, earlier than lastly resorting to slicing into his groin and administering the medicine into his femoral vein.
Atwood’s attorneys say the usage of cyanide in a gas chamber can also be unconstitutional, as a result of it would result in a grotesque dying by asphyxiation.
The state’s final gas chamber execution utilizing cyanide was Walter LaGrand in 1999, documented by witnesses as “agonizing” and lasting 18 minutes.
The final cyanide gas chamber dying previous to LaGrand, the 1992 gas chamber execution of Don Harding, was described by his lawyer as “slow, painful, degrading and inhumane.”
“To be clear, locking a human being in a chamber and flooding it with gas to extinguish his life should be a barbarism banished to history, not a current mode of correctional administration,” Atwood lawyer Joseph Perkovich wrote in a letter to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Corrections. “Nonetheless, numerous other gases instead of cyanide may be used to conduct a constitutional execution under Arizona law.”
Perkovich stated Atwood proposed the usage of nitrogen by means of an administrative grievance process despatched on May 1, however the state refused to course of it.
He stated Atwood had certainly made a alternative of dying by nitrogen gas, and the state was unsuitable to find out his failure to decide on cyanide gas or deadly injection as a failure to decide on at all.
“Thus, this letter demands that the Department immediately implement a nitrogen lethal gas method,” Perkovich wrote on May 14. “Arizona’s constitution and statute fail to designate a kind of gas for its lethal gas method, and historically that determination has fallen to the Department.”
In a response letter to Perkovich written May 16, Chief Counsel of the Office of Attorney General Capital Litigation Section Jeff Sparks stated present Department of Corrections procedures utilizing cyanide didn’t violate any relevant statutory or constitutional provision, “and, therefore, ADCRR will not be making any changes to these procedures.”
Arizona is the one state that also has a functioning gas chamber.
Atwood’s attorneys stated a warden and deputy warden on the Eyman jail advanced the place he’s being held “have approached Mr. Atwood … and exhorted him to elect one of the existing methods of execution, notwithstanding the unavailability of a legally valid choice.”
“The choice between one form of torture and another form of torture is no choice at all,” Perkovich stated Thursday.
The Department of Corrections and the Attorney General’s Office didn’t instantly reply to questions on Atwood’s request as of Thursday night.
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