Arizona executes a prisoner for the murder of an 8-year-old girl in 1984 – Reuters

FLORENCE, Ariz. –

A man in Arizona who was convicted of murdering an 8-year-old girl in 1984 was killed Wednesday in the state’s second execution since authorities resumed execution of the death penalty in May after a nearly eight-year hiatus.

Frank Atwood, 66, died in a fatal injection in Florence State Prison for his murder in the murder of Vicki Lynne Hoskinson, whose body was found in the desert, the state attorney general said. Arizona, Mark Brnovich, in a statement.

Vicki Lynne disappeared months earlier after leaving her home in Tucson to throw a birthday card in a nearby mailbox.

The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for Atwood’s execution Wednesday morning after dismissing a final appeal from his lawyers. He died at 10:16 a.m., Brnovich said.

Atwood was the second Arizona prisoner to be executed in less than a month. The execution of Clarence Dixon last month ended a halt to executions in Arizona, blamed on the difficulty of obtaining lethal injection drugs and criticism that a 2014 execution in the state was falsified.

Opponents of the death penalty fear Arizona could begin executing a steady stream of inmates dying on the verge of death, but state officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on their future execution plans. No further executions are planned so far in Arizona, which now has 111 prisoners on death row.

Atwood was accompanied through the process of preparing for the deadly injection of a priest, witnesses told the execution at a news conference. He had claimed his innocence but did not address the killing with his last words.

Witnesses said he thanked the pastor “for coming today and leading me in faith” and added, “I pray that the Lord will have mercy on us all and may the Lord have mercy on me.”

Witnesses also said the process of setting up IVs in Atwood for the injection went smoothly, even though medical staff were unable to locate a vein in his right arm and put the IV in his right hand, at Atwood’s suggestion.

The girl’s mother, Debbie Carlson, also witnessed the execution and told reporters after Atwood’s death that “Vicki was a lively little girl with an infectious laugh and a smile that would melt your heart.”

Carlson added: “His royal blue eyes reflected an old soul of wisdom and his freckled nose was unique and we are blessed to see him in our grandchildren today. Vicki was a cool little girl who always kept you on your toes and will always be known as the threatening Dennis who laughs all the time. “

In recent weeks, judges had rejected attempts by Atwood’s lawyers to delay the execution.

Atwood’s lawyers told the Supreme Court in court papers that the aggravating factor that made his crime punishable by death had been used invalidly. He was convicted in 1975 in California of adultery and horny behavior with a child under 14 and was convicted of murdering Vicki Lynne in 1987. Judges have previously rejected that legal argument.

They also said Atwood would suffer excruciating pain tied to the stretcher while lying on his back because he suffered from a degenerative back disease.

Prosecutors claimed Atwood was trying to postpone his execution indefinitely through legal maneuvers, saying his pain would be lessened by backing him up with a pillow on the stretcher, which has a reclining function.

Lupita Murillo, a KVOA TV reporter who witnessed the execution, said Atwood did not complain of back pain during the preparation process for the lethal injection.

Authorities said Atwood kidnapped Vicki, whose remains were discovered in the desert northwest of Tucson nearly seven months after she disappeared. Experts could not determine the cause of death from the remains, according to court records.

Dixon was executed May 11 for his 1978 assassination attempt on the murder of Deana Bowdoin, a 21-year-old student at Arizona State University.

His execution was criticized by death penalty experts because it took authorities about 30 minutes to insert an IV into his body to administer the deadly drug and 10 minutes after death.

They said executions are expected to take seven to 10 minutes from the start of the intravenous detention process until the prisoner is pronounced dead.

The execution team first tried unsuccessfully to insert an IV into Dixon’s left arm before they could connect it to his right arm. They then made an incision in his groin area for another IV line.

Dixon’s execution was the first to take place in the state since the execution of Joseph Wood in July 2014, who received 15 doses of a combination of two drugs over nearly two hours.

Wood sniffed several times and gasped before dying. His lawyer said the execution was flawed.

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Billeaud reported from Phoenix.

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